Pleasant Grove coaches working hard to keep seniors optimistic about prom, graduation, spring sports

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Pleasant Grove senior Braden Hlavinka got a surprise this week when Athletic Director Josh Gibson showed up in his front yard.

 

Pleasant Grove athletes are no different than others. The Hawks’ seniors just want to go outside to play and complete their high school careers.

The Coronavirus may have high school seniors confined at home, but most are still working hard and looking to the future thanks to some creative coaching by the Hawks’ staff.

“I hurt for these seniors, who are losing out on some experiences,” said Pleasant Grove Athletic Director Josh Gibson. “They’re possibly looking at no prom, or graduation ceremony. We just don’t know how things are going to turn out, but there are opportunities that have been missed.

“At the same time, I’m very sensitive and understanding to why we’re in this situation. It’s just out of our control. It’s not just our athletes, it’s all of our seniors. They’re all affected, the parents, too.”

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Senior Jackson Cobb still hoping the Hawks get to finish the 2020 baseball season.

Coaches stay in touch on computer, cell phones

Gibson continues to communicate with all of his football players via computer. The Hawks’ coaches hold team meetings, and view the players home workouts.

“We’ve been keeping up with each kid, making sure they don’t get depressed,” said Gibson. “Nothing like this has happened before. The kids may not be able to go outside and exercise like they want to, but they can still do some of those things. We have our kids in front of our faces on computer for an hour and fifteen minutes each week. They’re working out with different coaches. We talk and visit with them, and cheer them on.

“There’s still a lot of accountability that we’re still getting. This gives the kids the work and trust that we’re (coaches) not just sitting around.”

There’s very little that Gibson and his staff members don’t know about in regard to each athlete’s current circumstances. Some parents have lost jobs, and are going through the toughest times of their life. They’re simply trying to make ends meet.

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Senior Bre Jones, a cheerleader who also shows out on a softball field.

Earning paycheck with innovative thinking

The coaches have been blessed. They continue to get a paycheck, and they’re earning it with their innovative thinking.

“We’re trying to do everything we can to earn that payday,” said Gibson. “It starts with the kids, and keeping their spirits up. It all goes back to what we can control. We have to get things in perspective right now. It’s not about having a great season in football. I think everybody would take the opportunity to go out and play ball, and be around the kids. We need to help them grow, and teach them. It’s having that relationship component that we’re missing, regardless of the outcome of a game.

“I think communities would love to be around each other right now. I just want to go into the weightroom, or the classroom to hang out and visit with the team. Just having that sense of unity and togetherness would be awesome. We’re all longing for that.”

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Lost opportunity for some PG seniors

Gibson makes note that the stoppage of spring sports may have cost some seniors an opportunity to showcase their talents to college scouts. He said about 90 percent of student-athletes don’t get to perform at the next level, and those are the ones Gibson hurts for the most.

“Most likely they’ve played their last game, and didn’t know it,” he said. “It is a really tough situation for those kids who were trying to prove themselves to scouts this spring. I do know that if a kid wants to play at college, there’s always a home for them. Division 1-AA, Division II, Division III and the NAIA provide a lot of opportunities. It doesn’t mean a kid is going to start, or play there. However, if they work hard they’ll get that opportunity.”

Nobody is blaming the UIL if these seniors have played their last high school game.

The seniors are still in “hope mode” according to Gibson. The UIL reported early it was going to do everything in its power to give the kids a chance to play, whether it was in June, or July.

“We haven’t been told otherwise yet, but you get the feeling that’s coming,” said Gibson.