Rangers athletics resilient during the pandemic

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By Rick Palsgrove
Managing Editor

Photo by Ashley Brady
Hamilton Township senior Stephan Mikell (24) runs away from Newark’s Trey Robinson (18) and Tyler Shafer (52) for a big gain during a varsity football game played last fall.

The Hamilton Township Ranger athletic program has weathered the past year’s coronavirus pandemic and its accompanying restrictions.

Hamilton Township Schools Athletic Director Ryan Fitzgerald said that, during the pandemic, player participation in a few sports was down, but was up in others.

“For those athletes who did participate, you could sense the appreciation that they had for the opportunity to play when some schools and surrounding states did not have the same opportunity,” said Fitzgerald. “It is hard to correlate the participation numbers directly to the pandemic, but it certainly could have been a factor.”

He said, overall, the Rangers’ athletic revenue during the pandemic was reduced by nearly 50 percent, mainly due to spectator limitations.

When asked which sports suffered the most because of the pandemic restrictions, Fitzgerald said, “Once winter sports’ season started and COVID case numbers increased statewide, winter sports suffered more due to more limitations indoors and protocols put in place to follow.”

Messenger photo by Pat Donahue
Hamilton Township Ranger Avery Jones wins this battle for the ball with Groveport Madison’s Jasmine Hylton during a varsity soccer game played last September.

The pandemic presented many hurdles to players, coaches, and staffs.

“The past 15 months were certainly challenging due to not knowing what each day will bring regarding contact tracing and quarantines for both our athletes and our opponents,” said Fitzgerald. “Positively, I believe it allowed for greater collaboration between our district’s coaches and also athletic directors within the Mid-State League. Looking back throughout the year, I am appreciative that we were able to give the opportunities to student-athletes during a time of continued uncertainty.”

Fitzgerald said it is the Rangers’ goal to return to normal athletics operations for the 2021-22 school year.

“But we will continue to follow guidance from Franklin County Public Health, the Ohio Department of Health and the OHSAA,” said Fitzgerald.

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