Mohawk student section

Mohawk's fans celebrate as the Lady Warriors quickly pull ahead in the first quarter of Friday's game against United.

Two weeks.

That was the verdict handed down Friday by Gov. Tom Wolf for school closures across the state of Pennsylvania in kindergarten through 12 because of the coronavirus.

At the conclusion of the 10-business-day period, the administration will reevaluate and decide whether the closure needs to be extended. It affects not only the day-to-day activities for students, but also after-school activities such as sports.

Eight Lawrence County schools compete in various sports such as baseball, softball, boys tennis and track and field.

The first varsity play date for baseball, softball and track across the WPIAL is Friday. But that will come and go because of the school closure. Tennis opened this past Monday.

“I guess we’re following the same precedent as everyone else. There are no practices and no games,” New Castle High athletic director Sam Flora said. “I think we’re all waiting for the WPIAL to see how we’re going to do this.

“In my 40 years I’ve been with the school district, we’ve never been in a crisis like this; we’ve never had this situation. We have to wait it out. It’s unfortunate.” 

Shenango, Laurel and Neshannock all have new baseball coaches this year. Larry Kelly will be patrolling the Wildcats’ dugout, Gene DiGennaro is the Spartans’ coach and John Quahliero will lead the Lancers.

“Larry is looking for answers, too, just like we all are,” Shenango athletic director Jan Budai said. “When you’re new at something, you’re excited for it.

“What are we allowed to do? Nothing. It’s a process. The kids are young and resilient. They’ll bounce back from this.”

“Baseball-wise, we scrimmaged once already,” Laurel athletic director Mike Krol said. “The kids have a great attitude. The players and coaches have meshed really well. Now we wait.”

Said Neshannock athletic director Bobby Burkes, “Coach Q has been around with coach (Mike Kirkwood) a long time. If anything, it’s anxiety and excitement to get the season started. They cut him off at the knees for a couple of weeks. But hopefully it’s only a couple of weeks. He’s got the ability to make it look good when we start up.”

Weather usually is pretty rough for spring sports at various times of the season. Teams in all sports are losing valuable quality conditions during which they could be out honing their skills or playing in games.

During this two-week period, everything is off, including practices or scrimmages.

“Next week, the first three days will be perfect weather for March,” Krol said. “The thing is, when you’re in the administrative position, you have to take a posture that is for safety and welfare for the kids.

“We all get it. All of my coaches get it. We’re going to make it work, one way or another. I’m just hoping that when we get over the crest of the wave so to speak, the season continues.”

There is plenty of uncertainty of which direction the possibility of spring sports goes from here.

“I don’t think anyone will know,” Burkes said. “I’m not sure how they will work it out.

“Hopefully they do it and give the kids the chance to play. Maybe taking two weeks off and everyone calming down and re-evaluating things is a good way to go.”

“We’re all in the same boat right now,” Budai said. “There’s not much we’re going to be able to do. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. We’re crossing our fingers that this thing doesn’t last longer than Easter.” 

Said Flora, “I hope there will be a spring sports season. It’s scary. They cancelled a lot of stuff. They cancelled the NCAA Tournament, that’s a scary thing. It’s a crazy thing right now. We just have to wait it out.”

Sports Writer

Ron Poniewasz Jr. is a sports writer at the New Castle News. Email him at

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