We begin today by offering congratulations to Ryan Whitaker, who was named the new head basketball coach at Cumberland Gap High School in Harrogate, Tenn.
For those who don’t remember, Ryan was a vital member of the team that won the NAIA national championship in the last game the school played as Pikeville College. I’ve learned a different language in my years with Kelly Wells, and one of those terms is “glue guy.” I needed no further explanation than one offered in two words.
Big Whit, as he was called that year after his younger brother Josh joined the team (Little Whit), was the ultimate glue guy. Whatever his team needed to hold things together, he could do it. Need to put someone on the other team’s best player? Big Whit. Need a key rebound in the biggest moment of the season? Big Whit. Need somebody at the free-throw line in a clutch situation?
Yep. Big Whit was your guy.
Let me be honest about something: While Cooksey and Setty and Hankins-Cole and Hicks made the headlines, I’m not sure we could have won it all without Ryan.
He got into coaching after graduation and quickly made a name for himself, first at Powell County and then Pike Central. Now, he will apply his craft just through the tunnel from his native Bell County at Cumberland Gap.
They’re going to love him.
• The Commonwealth of Virginia announced this week that the high school football season won’t be played in the fall. This is notable because several local schools typically play schools from Virginia.
As of Wednesday evening Shelby Valley was still showing one, and I wondered if East Ridge had already removed somebody because they had some holes in their schedule.
It remains to be seen if it will be played at all this academic year.
This is particularly of interest because …
• Last week, the KHSAA decided to continue with “business as usual” until the first week of August. This means that, as of now, the governing body for high school sports in Kentucky is planning on playing all sports.
As my old buddy Joe Mitchell would say after a sentence like that one, the key word there is “as of now.”
Notice this quote from Commissioner Julian Tackett: “We’re playing this fall. We’re going to participate in athletics and activities this fall. We don’t know what it’s going to look like, but we’re going to.”
Notice what he didn’t say there: We’re playing football, or we’re playing soccer. He simply said we’re playing this fall, without any details.
Many sports can be played without a lot of issues relating to distancing and contact and the like. Golf, for instance, should be fine, as should a sport such as cross country. Probably bowling would be okay, and there are others.
But football, basketball and soccer seem to be problematic.
We’ve said before we think this will be an issue, but not just on the high school level. Many governing bodies on many levels are scrambling to see what can and can’t be played.
• Speaking of that, don’t be surprised if you hear about college and potentially high school leagues, conferences, and associations talking about juggling the seasons of many of their sports, trying to get some of those considered low contact in action in the fall while we try to figure out a way to play the others, in some aspect, at a later date.
• On Wednesday, we learned the reason for the puzzling move that saw the Reds leave Derek Dietrich off it’s 60-man roster when the team returned a couple of weeks ago.
Dietrich had tested positive for COVID-19. Remember, teams can only release that information if the player signs off on it. Apparently Dietrich didn’t.
I believe he could help this team, but even with the designated hitter being in effect in the National League this year, at bats will be at a premium. We’ll see how it goes, but we’re happy to see him back in the fold where he belongs.
• Many people in our coverage area are still fans of the Atlanta Braves, despite them not being available on a nightly basis on TBS anymore. For those of you who qualify, let me say this from experience: You’re going to love Yasiel Puig.
I was skeptical last year when he joined the Reds, but grew to love him and hated seeing him go when he was traded to Cleveland. He will endure himself to the city and be a fan favorite… even if you aren’t allowed to actually go see him play.