By Woodard, Dale on April 4, 2020.
It’s not under the best circumstances, but Todd Hubka has tackled his spring to-do list.
Right into next year, in fact.
With the COVID-19 pandemic shuttering the Prairie Baseball Academy and their Canadian College Baseball Conferencen season, the varsity head coach has managed to keep a schedule, just a different one, since the season ground to a halt a little over two weeks ago.
“I’d go in every morning in the first week and make sure the building is still there and do the email thing,” said Hubka, who his heading into his 10th season as head coach of the PBA varsity team and 24th year with the program. “We have been doing a lot of Zoom conference calls and trying to move forward here. We still have to maintain Spitz Stadium and Lloyd Nolan Yard and Little League fields and still try to recruit for next year. This is the earliest I’ve ever had my spring schedule done for next year.”
When word came down March 17 the CCBC was cancelling the season due to the pandemic, Hubka said the priority was getting the out-of-town players back home while travel was still permitted.
“When they decided to shut the schools down we had a team meeting and through the people I know who know what they’re talking about when it comes to this stuff I basically told my players that we are suspending the year and to please go home,” he said. “I was worried about some of them having to jump on airplanes or provincially travel and the way it was going I worried there was going to be a total lockdown and these kids were going to be left here in Lethbridge. So we shut it down a couple weeks ago and most of the kids left that week. Some of them have decided that, for their online classes, that it was better for them to stay in Lethbridge, self-isolate here and be able to concentrate on the school aspect of it.”
There’s no baseball being played on it, but Hubka and his coaching staff still have some fields to tend to with spring approaching.
“My favourite app is the weather network and I follow that every day and it looks like finally we’re into some better weather coming up,” said Hubka, whose team was to host this year’s Canadian College World Series May 14-18 at Spitz Stadium. “I’ve had a tarp on my infield at the PBA for almost a month now, so I’m looking forward to taking that off this week – I’m sure it’s green underneath – and maintain our facility. (PBA junior varsity head coach) Chance Wheatley is the head groundskeeper over at Spitz Stadium and we also take care of all of the Little League fields, too. If you don’t maintain these fields even if there are no games going on they’ll go sideways in a hurry.”
With this season benched, the PBA goes into recruiting mode, albeit with a twist due to the pandemic.
“It’s the time of year that we ramp up our recruiting and it’s more or less going on the Internet and looking at swings and arms and reaching out to kids,” said Hubka. “I hate that. I love going to the games and watching kids and watching them perform and trying to find that diamond in the rough. This year it’s not going to happen. It is what it is.”
Even baseball in September remains a question mark.
“I don’t know what that looks like and I don’t think anyone can tell me what that looks like,” said Hubka. “I think we have to get things put in place moving forward whether the schools open up or it’ll be online. There are lots of scenarios that could play out and hopefully through our Zoom conversations with everybody we can come up with some different game plans.”
However, the silver lining in the COVID pandemic is it allows the players the chance to hit the books, if not the field.
“Right now, they’re concentrating on the end of their school year,” said Hubka. “Is there going to be any summer baseball? I don’t know. I think looking at it it’s going to be very hard. But as of right now we told them to take care of school. That’s why they’re here. Academically, it’s a blessing that they’re not playing baseball. It’s tough to do both and you take care of the school end of things. It builds your character for next year, too. You take care of school now and then you can come into the fall knowing you took care of it and get ready to go again.”
Follow @DWoodardHerald on Twitter