First year athletic director Adam Loria was thrown into a near impossible situation – navigate through your first year as full time Activities Director with the ever-looming threat of the COVID-19 pandemic looming overhead.
Luckily, the West Liberty Athletic programs have been unaffected – at least so far. The same cannot be said for other programs around the state.
On Friday afternoon, Loria received a phone call informing him that the football teams' foe for the evening, the Tipton Tigers, would be suspending all athletic activity while dealing with a confirmed case of the virus within their program.
His next task was to inform head Comet football coach Jason Iske and try to quickly find the team a new opponent. “From there, it was make a phone call to the state office,” Loria said. “They gave me four or five different schools to try. They were all no’s.”
Loria learned at around 1:30 that North Cedar had to back out of it’s game, so he called their opponent, Lisbon. “It was two or three phone calls over 10 minutes and they were a yes – they were coming,” he said.
The Comets would eventually find their match in battling the Class 1A Lions, with eyes still set on a 7 p.m. kick off. A Friday game that was supposed to be on the road suddenly turned into the third straight home game of the season.
The AD haD to get the field painted within the next couple of hours to finish game day preparations.
Loria stressed the importance of finding the team an opponent, citing the uncertainty of not knowing how many games they’ll be able to get in this season, noting with the virus still out there, it’s a week by week season that could end abruptly.
“Next week’s not guaranteed,” Loria said. “The kids have worked hard and the kids want to play. So lets find someone for them to play – they deserve it.”
The only way the Comets weren’t going to see a field Friday or Saturday night was when everyone kept telling him no. “We were prepared to travel, and we were prepared to play Saturday night if we needed to,” Loria said.
Loria said a lot of things had to come together to make the last-minute change a success, from informing the public to making sure everything was in place at Memorial Field, including chain gangs and officiating.
The new AD said he couldn’t have been more happy about the way it all came together, noting there were a lot of moving parts and he had a lot of cooperation within the district.