Cruisers athletics fared well during the pandemic

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By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Editor

Messenger photo by Pat Donahue
Groveport Madison’s Jennifer Perez (16) Hamilton Township’s Ziann Payne square off for the ball in a girls varsity soccer game last September.

The Groveport Madison Cruiser athletic program has weathered the past year’s coronavirus pandemic and its accompanying restrictions.

“I thought our athletic teams fared very well during the pandemic,” said Groveport Madison Schools Athletic Director Steve Petros. “Our overall numbers were down in a lot of our sports, but we definitely competed very well.”

Petros said the coaches’ and kids’ morale remained high and everyone did what they had to do.

“I can’t say enough about the great job our coaches did following the pandemic protocols and doing everything that was asked of them so we could move forward,” said Petros. “We also had great leadership from Superintendent Garilee Ogden, Deputy Superintendent Jamie Grube and (high school principal) Paul Smathers. They provided us with everything we needed.”

He said the sports that suffered the most were the spring sports in 2020 since they actually lost a season.

Messenger photo by Pat Donahue
Groveport Madison Cruiser senior running back Jalil Underdown outruns would be Westland tacklers on his way to another long touchdown run in a varsity football game played last August.

“Overall, I felt all of our sports handled the restrictions very well,” said Petros.

He said dealing with the pandemic and its restrictions resulted in him having the most stressful time he has had in his nine year career as an athletic director at Groveport Madison.

“August and September were pretty rough,” said Petros. “The only stress that compares was having a football field that was a pile of dirt with the opening kick off 10 days away. I look back at it fondly but hope to never have that kind of stress again. We sure hope that things are back to normal when the fall season comes. Time will tell, but we are always waiting for information from the health department and the state leadership.”

During Petros’ tenure as athletic director the Cruisers have won a football title, a boys soccer title, a cheer title, three wrestling titles, three softball championships.

“We have seen the baseball team beat the number one team in the state and football beat the state champion,” said Petros. “We have seen our boys basketball team in the district finals. Bowling has competed at states as has individuals in wrestling and track. We also started the Cruiser Athletic Hall of Fame. We are very proud to have started that in our list of achievements in the athletic department.”

He said Cruiser athletes and coaches excel well beyond the playing field.

“We helped pass a levy when athletics were on the line because our coaches and athletes hit the streets and worked hard to pass it to save our sports,” said Petros. “I’m very proud to see our coaches work together to give our kids a great experience. It is unbelievable to me to see how hard our coaches have also helped our kids in the classroom. A lot of our kids have achieved higher than they even expected. I wouldn’t leave Groveport Madison for any job in the state. Watching our coaches grow into leaders and watching so many of our kids grow, mature, and be really good in the classroom and playing field never gets old.”

Petros said he has been a part of several athletic programs in the past, but he would not trade his Groveport Madison experience for anything.

“We have had unbelievable achievements on and off the playing field,” said Petros. “From winning league titles in programs that have never won a title or haven’t for decades, to passing a levy, and building a new school. I have experienced more highs and lows in this job than all jobs combined. It has been a great experience.”

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