Veteran baseball coach Dale Harpenau hasn’t been home every day during the spring since he was in grade school. The veteran baseball coach took time this week to reflect on working from home — and how heartbroken he is for his seniors.
Q: Is the stoppage of baseball, and virtually life as we knew it, the hardest thing you’ve dealt with in your professional career?
A: I would have to say that is correct. Over the past 33 years of coaching there have been many different things that have happened but nothing like this that has affected the entire country (world) like this. Also, how abruptly it happened. One minute we are playing baseball and the next minute it appears to be over. Having coached for so long you expect to be doing different things at different times of the year, (but) I did not expect to be doing this.
Q: It has to be brutal on your players, too. There is no high school redshirting.
A: It has been hard for me but I know it has been much harder on my players. I know that they were looking forward to getting the chance to play their first home game with a brand new turf infield. It looks beautiful, but you realize that may not happen. I will get the chance to coach the game I love again but for some of them, especially the seniors, they may never have the opportunity to play the game they love again. That's what breaks my heart for those guys.
Q: When did COVID19 hit you as being a reality that something could happen with a social distancing stoppage of school and sports activities?
A: We were on the bus headed to Texas to play in a tournament. About the time we hit the Texas border the kids were on twitter and other social devices when they first canceled the NBA season, then college baseball and the College World Series. How much the world had changed in a matter of hours, from getting on a school bus in the Southside parking lot headed to Texas, until we first heard about the outbreak. Probably when I got to the hotel room that night and turned on the TV was when I realized how big this was and how different things were going to be.
Q: There are a lot of questions people can't answer. What's your biggest as a baseball coach?
A: Strictly from the baseball side, it would be is there a chance we can save somewhat of a baseball season. Mainly for the seniors that have worked so hard to get to this point in their careers. Again from the sport side of things I hate it most for the seniors and how they can't get this year back.“
Q: What's your message to your players, especially pitchers who need to keep their arms in shape in case something happens in the next few weeks?
A: Find time and a place to throw. Take care of your bodies, get some running in so you don't lose your legs. Treat it as though you are in the preseason. You never know what may happen. Just be as well prepared as you can.
Q: What are your expectations when baseball resumes?
A: I believe kids will have a new appreciation for the game. I know I will. Sometimes you don't realize how much you miss something until it is no longer there. Baseball will resume again at some point. Hopefully sooner rather than later, but when it does the world will be a better place.
Q: What sports activities do you recommend now?
A: Anything where you can keep your distance. Running and walking would be great places to start
Q: On a different note, this is probably the first time you have been home so much in the spring since you were a little boy?
A: There is no question about that. This has been really hard for me because this is not what I'm supposed to be doing this time of year. I've enjoyed spending more time with the family and I have finished a few projects in the yard that I was planning on doing this summer. But I would much rather be on the baseball field with the guys right now.
Q: How exciting will things be when games (life) returns to normal?
A: It will be the best. It can’t get here soon enough!