Welp…so much for the year and the decade being off to a good start, as I stated at the top of the last update. Less than a month later, we are living in the midst of a global disaster thanks to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
And since there’s not going to be much to talk about other than just trying to stay healthy and alive for the next few months (and, yes, this is going to be months…not weeks), I figured I would send a quick note to wish all of you and your loved ones safety and good health before I suspend these updates for awhile.
I know of at least one friend whose family has already been affected by COVID-19, so I want them to know my wife and I are thinking of them and hoping for the best. And, of course, the same goes to anyone else to which that applies.
These are unprecedented times for most, if not all, of us.
Before I let you go for awhile, I did want to express one personal frustration that seems superficial in the grand scheme of things, but I still feel the need to address it since there are many Rider University alumni on this distribution list.
The sports world going on pause happened at the absolute worst time for NCAA Division I college basketball. The Rider University men’s basketball team entered the MAAC Tournament as the 3-seed and played well down the stretch of the regular season. I think the Broncs had a legitimate shot at the title game, but it would have been awfully tough to get by top-seed Siena. As it turned out, the NCAA basketball season came to a close hours before the Broncs’ first tournament game.
Meanwhile, instead of going to the NCAA Tournament, the Siena men’s basketball team is currently in quarantine because it turns out an infected official worked the Saints’ tournament game.
The more heartbreaking story was what happened to the Rider women’s team. Led by MAAC Coach of the Year Lynn Milligan, MAAC Player of the Year and 2019-20 Division I scoring champ (24.8 ppg) Stella Johnson, the Broncs finished the regular season with a 25-4 overall record, going 18-2 in conference play. In the regular-season finale at Monmouth, Rider claimed the program’s first-ever MAAC regular-season championship and the conference tournament’s top seed on this thrilling buzzer-beating layup by Amari Johnson off an inbounds pass from Lexi Stover.
— Rider Women’s Basketball (@RiderWBB) March 7, 2020
In their opening quarterfinal game of the MAAC Tournament at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall on March 11, the Broncs just couldn’t pull away from upset-minded 8th-seeded Niagara—despite a game-high 37 points from Stella Johnson in what turned out to be her final collegiate game. The game wasn’t decided until Lea Favre hit this jumper to put the Broncs up 77-74 with about 10 seconds left in regulation. Hot-shooting Maggie McIntyre, who tied two MAAC Tournament records by going 7-of-15 from three-point range to allow Niagara to keep pace with the Broncs, missed a 3 at the other end in the closing seconds. Rider then sealed the win with a pair of free throws.
Rider 77 | Niagara 74 10.2 seconds left. Lea finishes off the Mobley feed. Timeout Niagara.
— Rider Women’s Basketball (@RiderWBB) March 11, 2020
But the next day, college basketball was over. Rider women’s basketball, a perennial conference doormat that had just ascended toward the top of the MAAC a few years ago—even making a run to the 2017 MAAC Tournament championship game—saw its dream season come to an abrupt and unthinkable end. The Broncs had racked up a Division-I program-best 26 wins and were two games away from another shot at making the NCAA Tournament when everything changed and everything ended.
For what it’s worth, during the March 12 press conference announcing the cancellation of the remainder of the Tournament, MAAC Commissioner Rich Ensor announced that if the NCAA went ahead with the men’s and women’s tournaments (it had not been decided just yet), the conference would be represented by the Siena men and the Rider women. I’m not sure if Rider or any other teams will be able to use such proclamations to claim an NCAA appearance.
And after saying all that, I want to make clear that stopping these games was absolutely necessary. In fact, I called the MAAC out on Twitter for allowing fans there when they opened the tournament. After all, MAAC school Iona is from New Rochelle, N.Y., a coronavirus hotspot. It was tremendously risky having folks come from all over to Atlantic City, especially with the country’s general lack of testing…which is somehow still a problem.
The next morning, I was among quite a few people on Twitter begging the MAAC to pull the plug entirely. One of those people was Rider University Athletics Hall of Famer and 8-year NBA veteran Jason Thompson.
By 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 12, the MAAC shut down the tournament after Fairfield beat Siena in a women’s quarterfinal game that tipped off at noon. It was the nation’s second-to-last college basketball game this season, as only the MEAC allowed Morgan State and Delaware State to play a meaningless women’s quarterfinal round game later that afternoon.
Soon after, nearly the entire sports world went dark. And it quickly became apparent life was going to be vastly different in the coming weeks and months.
Songs for Social Distancing
I’ve put together a YouTube playlist of songs for these difficult and unprecedented times. They are motivational, inspirational and even somewhat meditative, curated from a wide array of genres…pop, rock, Americana, folk, electronic, jazz, and new age. There are even a few tracks from musicals and films. Some are just general feel-good songs, while some are more relaxing. Others are there just for background music as you work from home or teach your kids.
I’ll be constantly updating the playlist and playing around with the sequencing at times. Of course, you can always play it in shuffle mode for a more random feel.
OK, everyone…until things return to normal—or at least closer to it—that’s it from me. Again, stay as safe and healthy as possible. Practice social distancing! Wash your hands often and properly! Stay home as much as you possibly can.
Unfortunately, we’re still at the very early stages of this outbreak here in the United States. I would be stunned if kids return to school before next fall, at the earliest. Many experts are now saying they expect a peak in May. If we’re social distancing two months out from peak, we’ll be social distancing two months out of peak.
This is going to be life for the next few months.
But it’s OK. We’ll get through this.
2020 Scheduled Races
Who knows if any of these are going to even happen? Or if I’ll even get to train for whatever races are run. With the kids home, my training time is going to be severely limited to whatever time I can sneak in on weekends.
So far, the Broad Street Run is the only race within the 8-week period during which the CDC has recommended the cancellation or postponement of all events of 50 or more people. However, as I type this, the race organizers have yet to announce a decision about the status of the 2020 race (which, honestly, is stupid…it’s not happening).
At this point, I’m pretty much assuming the Atlantic City Triathlon on August 1 is the first race on this list that has the slightest chance of happening.
Broad Street Run
Sunday, May 3, 2020
Rock ‘n’ Roll Atlantic City Half Marathon
Saturday, May 16, 2020 – 6:00 p.m.
Bader Field, Atlantic City, N.J.
Atlantic City Triathlon
Olympic distance: 1mi. swim, 22 mi. bike, 10K/6.2 mi. run
Saturday, August 1, 2020
Bader Field, Atlantic City, N.J.
Crest Best Run Fest 10 Miler
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Centennial Park, Wildwood Crest, N.J.
Trenton Half Marathon
Saturday, November 7, 2020 – 8:00 a.m.
Sunday, November 22, 2020
Eakins Oval, Philadelphia, Pa.