Caitlin Dellecave, a senior and three-sport star at Patchogue-Medford, said she didn’t want to pick up her head and see all the sad faces and teary eyes.
Ryan Cox, the director of athletics for the Patchogue-Medford school district, had pulled the Raiders’ spring sports teams into the high school gymnasium for an emergency meeting early Thursday afternoon.
Dellecave said Cox had barely begun to speak when silence fell over the gym. Cox was delivering the news that the Patchogue-Medford administration had postponed the spring season until April 30. The administration had sent a detailed letter earlier in the day and a robocall went out district-wide.
“We were getting ready for practice and we knew something was going on, but no one expected this,” said Dellecave, who has committed to play women’s lacrosse at Stony Brook University. “We just didn’t want to believe it. I was around all the other seniors and it didn’t feel real. We have a strong group of seniors and we’ve been playing together for a long time and wanted to finish up together.”
Donna Jones, Ed.D., the superintendent of the Patchogue-Medford School District, sent a letter in response to the recommendations of the World Health Organization and the actions recently taken by the NBA and other athletic conferences across the country.
Her letter read, in part, “The District has taken the following actions effective today: All use of facilities by outside organizations have been cancelled. All music events, including practices and shows, have been postponed. All evening events have been cancelled. All athletic activities including games and practices, have been cancelled. All field trips have been cancelled. All of the actions will stand through April 30, 2020.
“As a reminder, we have no confirmed cases of COVID-19. We will continue to do everything possible to keep our buildings clean and sanitized. We are terribly saddened to have to make these decisions. However, the safety of all students, staff and the entire Patchogue-Medford community is of utmost importance.”
Patchogue-Medford baseball coach Tony Frascogna had just started practice when his team was called off the field.
“Mr. Cox reiterated what had been sent out to the community,” Frascogna said. “I don’t think many of the players knew what was going on. They were in shock as he spoke. When the reality of the moment set in, there was just silence. You could see how down the kids were and I felt so bad for them. For some seniors that only play a spring sport, it was crushing. Mr. Cox did a great job as he tried to put everyone at ease by being positive and saying we’ll get through this together. He was very reassuring.”
Frascogna said school will resume on Friday and told his guys it wasn’t “goodbye forever.”
“I thought Mr. Cox did a great job in delivering awful news by giving the athletes some hope that we’ll salvage some sort of season in May,” Frascogna said. “Selfishly, I hope the section pushes the season back for everyone. But I’m sure that will be determined by the number of schools that decide to postpone for a few weeks. We happen to be the first school to make this decision and we’ll see if other schools jump on board. I just feel like we’re on an island here because we’re the first to make the decision. Hopefully, we can save some part of the season and have an abbreviated playoff system.”
Dellecave hopes that is the case.
“I understand for everyone’s health and safety, but it’s just heartbreaking,” she said. “We’re all praying that we’ll get to play in May — no matter how short it is — or maybe even extend our season into June. There’s a lot of smart people involved and I’m hoping they’ll come up with a solution. We’re trying to cope with the news. We’ll figure out how to stay in shape and get the stick in our hands to stay sharp should we have that opportunity to continue in May.”