When Tori Rumbolt broke her ankle in the Western Massachusetts Division II girls basketball final, Morgan Shafer was concerned.
The Hoosac Valley softball coach was worried about Rumbolt's health, of course, but it didn't take long for Shafer to start thinking about life without Rumbolt on the field.
"Yeah, I cringe a lot," Shafer said. "Especially when it is one of my softball players. Tori's been with us since a freshman, so to see an injury happen her senior year, it's obviously not the best scenario."
Injuries that carry over from one season to another are a hazard for winter and spring coaches. St. Joseph's boys basketball coach Paul Brindle says it feels like it happens to him every year, as it did with senior Lavante Wiggins this year. The Crusaders' South Division rival, Mount Greylock, felt the same pain when guard Hank Barrett broke his collarbone during football season and missed the basketball preseason.
After he was hurt, Barrett wondered how much of his winter season was in jeopardy.
"That was one of the first things that went through my mind that night," Barrett said. " ‘Oh shoot, the rest of football season and who knows how much of basketball season.' ... There was a lot of pressure to get myself completely prepared physically and mentally."
Brindle said he could see the pressure on Wiggins, who missed the start of the season due to lingering injuries from football season. He was still playing with a broken toe in the Western Mass.
"That played a part for almost the entire season," Brindle said. "He was never in basketball shape until the end of the year, and you saw how he played the last three weeks."
Brindle was a multi-sport athlete himself and he loves having guys on his team who can do it all. That doesn't make football season any less nerve-wracking.
Brindle talks to his football counterpart, Gary Bianchi, weekly, getting updates on the basketball players that may be banged up in the fall. This year that meant just about every starter, from Wiggins to 1,000-point scorer Tank Roberson, key utility man Michael Carpenter and Bianchi's son Jon. Brindle said it's important to have that strong relationship between coaches.
"I'm a nervous wreck with the guys I have," Brindle said. "They're very good football players but they're incredible basketball players. During football it's like, ‘Please don't get hurt.' Not only could it jeopardize our team, but these guys are so good, if they wanted to play in college. ... it's a tough thing."
For now, Shafer has a few backup plans in the works for life without Rumbolt. She said she won't rush the star shortstop onto the field.
"She's going to be a big part of the team whether she's on the bench for a little while or if she's out on the field," Shafer said. "Tori's naturally always concerned about her team first. I know she's going to do her best to put a positive attitude out there."