By Anthony Caruso III
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 4/8/20
With so much fear and unknown swirling around her lacrosse team and the world beyond, Pennridge girls’ lacrosse coach Karen Schnurr found a way to bring some sense of normalcy to her team Saturday.
Schnurr and her assistant coach, Will Rodzewich, biked 60 miles – yes, 60 miles – throughout Pennridge School District to see, using social distancing, her players at their homes, while even having a catch with them.
It took nearly 9 hours to complete this adventure. She spent 5-to-10-minutes with each player before departing to see another student-athlete. In total, Schnurr and Rodzewich saw 40 players on the varsity and junior varsity level.
Q: How did you come up with this idea?
KS: “It was all my assistant coach Will Rodzewich. He is a cyclist himself — and I bike, as well. He texted me and asked, ‘Do you want to go bike around to the players houses?’ I thought, ‘OK, let’s do it.’ It was all his idea. It came together last Monday [March 30th] when he texted me. I reached out to our principal to make sure it was all right. Once we got the approval, I reached out to the girls to see if they wanted to see coach Will and I – that we could bike to their house. About three-fourths of the team said yes.”
Q: How did they react when you showed up to their houses?
KS: “When I first told them, they were pretty excited since I had not seen them since Thursday, March 12th. Then, when we actually pulled up on our bikes to their houses, their entire families were out and they were so excited to see us. They had huge smiles on their faces. I pulled out my stick, as I carried my stick on my back, then we began to have a catch. I asked them how they were doing — and if they were doing anything fun and exciting. I also asked them if they were keeping up with lacrosse and how school work was going. It was kind of like we were back at practice, but it was just me and that one player.”
Q: When you came around, this may have been the first-time they practiced with someone since everything went on hold. Could you talk about that?
KS: “Some of them have bounce backs or nets that they are able to work on. But most of them — like you were saying — they do not have anybody else to play with, especially if they do not have siblings. For that reason, some were very excited to see us. All of them were super excited to see us.”
Q: How long were you at each individual houses?
KS: “I would say that we were at each individual house for 5-to-10 minutes. I would talk to them and we would talk with their families. We would have a catch, while some of them even made us treats and gave us Gatorade; then we would bike off to the next one.”
Q: When did you start this adventure? What time did it end?
KS: “My assistant coach Will got to my house at 8:45 am. We were then on our adventure and then we got to our last home at — I believe — around 6:10 pm. During this, I keep thinking when I was working in the off-season with the team since last July. We would do morning workouts that began in January with 6 AM workouts and we also did conditioning. I thought if they can get up for me back in January and February for the 6 AM workouts, I can climb up the side of this hill and I can get to them. They were on my mind the whole time.”
Q: How many hills would you say that you had to go up and down during this adventure to see your players?
KS: “The best way to say that would be too many to count. There was one that Will said was a 14% degree climb that we had to do. When, one hill that we were going down, I know I was going 38 mph. I also had to watch for cars when I was going that fast. They were some pretty big hills.”
Q: What did you tell the girls during your brief time with them during your visit?
KS: “I told them to keep positive and I also told them to keep working on their stick work. I also want them to work on their footwork. Hopefully, one day in the near future, we’re back together. We got one scrimmage in — and that was actually Wednesday [March 11th] — and I said to them to let us enjoy our time together, because we don’t know what’s going to happen. I keep telling them that — even now. I keep sending them weekly challenges, whether it is wall ball, or a workout challenge. We’re still trying to motivate them during this trying time. We also had a juggling challenge. I want them to know that I’m still thinking about them and that we’re supporting them and we’re all hoping to be brought back together soon.”
Q: How are you keeping contact with your players during this trying time?
KS: “We do Zoom chats and I actually do Zoom workouts with them. I want them to be safe and healthy. I think it is important that the girls know that I’m still supporting them. To me, a high school sport is not something that just starts in March and ends in May. We have been working together since really last season. I want them to know that I’m still here for them and that I am supporting them. That’s why Will said to do this, I told him yes. I don’t care how many miles it is because I felt like they needed to see me. I knew that they needed to see my face and know that it will all be OK.”
Q: How did you approach your visits with your seniors than your other student-athletes, as they are the ones who are likely hurting the most from this pandemic?
KS: “My seniors were the hardest to see. They had been working four years to get to this point, then in a split second to have it taken away, it was definitely a sober, sad moment to see them. But it was also a good moment, because under the circumstances, I was so happy to see them. Then, when it was time to leave them, it was sad.”
Q: If this is truly the end of their [seniors] run, what are you going to remember the most about them?
KS: “I will remember most their dedication. They are a group of girls that are truly dedicated, especially in the off-season. They are also positive, who are loving, dedicated players.”
Q: Do you have a plan to potentially do this again?
KS: “We do have a plan. Will wanted to do it next week, but I told him I might need a break. We might do it at the end of April or the beginning of May. We told them if we do this again, they have to be in ‘costume.’. Right now, we do not know what is going on and we’re in a delay. If we do get back, we have been told we’ll pick up where we were supposed to in the schedule. Our season goes through the second week of May, so if we go back the first week of May, we could potentially have just a week of the season to play. That’s all ‘what if?’ right now.”
Q: Why do they have to be in costume if you guys do this again?
KS: “Our girls are very excited for prom and unfortunately, prom has been crossed off right now with this coronavirus. Will and I said that they can be in costume the next time we do this. One of my players asked if she could actually wear her prom dress for us when we come back the next time. I obviously said, ‘Of course.’ We have not made a date for it yet, but we have talked about it. And the girls have asked us if we would come back, which of course, we would. They definitely want to see us again — and we definitely want to see them. We have to support our girls through this. To see their smiles, it made this all worth it. They were so excited to see us. It also showed me the bond that our team has with one another.”