Athletics: Spring coaches deal with loss of season

Warriors baseball head coach Trent Grams coaches during a game in 2019. Thursday it was announced the 2020 season would be canceled due to COVID-19. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Spring coaches will go into the offseason without any season to look back on.

After the Minnesota State High School League announced Thursday, April 24, the spring sports would be canceled for the 2020 season, the coaches talked with their players about the news.

“We were disappointed, but we were prepared for it,” Brainerd Warriors head baseball coach Trent Grams said. “It was still hard. It’s not fun. We talked to the players last night and they already knew what was going on. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but it will make us better for the long run.”

Grams said his team was prepared if the season would have started. Through distance coaching, his players were working out and doing drills.

“We would have been not as prepared as we would have liked to have been, but it would not have been different from any other school,” Grams said.


The Warriors had 13 seniors on the baseball team. The only message Grams could give them was “I’m sorry.”

“We kind of shifted gears away from baseball and focused more on just being a support system if they needed it,” Grams said. “This is bigger than baseball now.”

Dylan Pittman was supposed to take over for Dan Saehr as the new Pierz baseball head coach. He’ll have to wait for his first season.

Pittman is also the assistant boys basketball coach for the Pioneers. That season ended in the section finals when COVID-19 shut down the rest of the section playoffs and state tournament for basketball. Pierz will be crowned a Section 7-2A finalist.

“We kind of saw it coming,” Pittman said. “It kind of resurfaced all those feelings of disappointment and frustration (from the basketball season).”

Pittman hopes his players can still play amateur ball in the summer.

Ashley Rutman is another first-time head coach for the Brainerd Warriors girls track and field team. She said there was a strange feeling that went over when she told her student-athletes the news.

“We have been communicating with our athletes through google classroom,” Rutman said. “So I sat down to write a message to our girls team and it feels weird to have my first season as a head coach be impacted in this way. For me there are a lot of lessons learned and I get a second opportunity to start I guess.”


Staples-Motley track and field co-head coach Bruce Fuhrman said his athletes were training and were ready for a season, so it’s hard it got stripped from them.

“We had practice schedules and things we handed out to them,” Fuhrman said. “The kids we have I know do their workouts and there were reports around the community that they were training and getting their miles in. This would have been a pretty good year for us.”

Fuhrman texted his athletes Friday morning to break the news.

Pine River-Backus head softball coach John Riewer only had one senior this spring and remained optimistic until the news broke yesterday.

“I kind of had a gut feeling that if school was going to be online learning for the rest of the year, we won’t be having a sports season,” Riewer said. “I really feel for our seniors and I feel for all our athletes. I look back and my most memorable moments come from high school athletics and being with my teammates. That was one way that got me through school and some of these kids are going to have to find other hobbies or play the sport they love individually.”

Brainerd girls golf head coach Todd Person is upset his team won’t get a chance to back up its 2019 state run.

“This is very disappointing and understandable given the current circumstances of the country,” Person said. “I’m glad they are putting safety first. I’m just sad we are losing the entire season especially with a team that was a state participant last year. The one nice thing is the core of the team will all be back next year.”

Person also is the head coach of the Brainerd adapted floor hockey team, who entered the state tournament undefeated and the No. 1 seed before the tournament got canceled.


“It was tough with the hockey season knowing that we had a good shot of winning the championship again,” Person said. “That was a team that had three seniors.”

Person thinks they could have played the full golf schedule because of the nice spring weather.

“Probably the first time in years we would’ve had the whole season and the whole schedule and something like this happens,” Person said.

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