Geoff Smith | From the Baseline: What the sports shutdown means for your local Berkshires sports section

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So, what is a sports department supposed to do when there are no organized sports being played?

We'll find out the answer starting today.

As we're all aware of by now, the COVID-19 virus has impacted everything about our way of life, including the postponing and canceling of sporting events. Locally, that's included wiping out the MIAA winter sports state championship games, postponing the start of spring sports, and cancellations of spring seasons for Williams College and MCLA. I hate to think this, but it seems the cancellations are only getting started.

So what does that mean for The Eagle's sports section? As you'll notice, the section is going to be smaller for a while. It is not, however, going to disappear at any point.

Instead, we will focus on keeping everyone updated on the coronavirus and its impact in sports, while also looking for the sports stories that are still developing around us. I know I have a feature that I have a lot more time for, and will hopefully be out soon. There's also a story idea list floating around the department.

If you have an idea, feel free to let me know and we can get on it. With more time on our hands, the entire sports department is ready to get out and cover the stories that sometimes get by with our usual hustle and bustle.

The easiest way to reach us is to email sports@berkshireeagle.com, or call us at 413-496-6250. My DMs on Twitter are open, as well.

These are unprecedented times ahead, and it truly stinks that there are no sports being played to provide us a haven from the reality of our day to day. But, the show never really stops, even if organized team activities do.

You might also see our bylines popping up in the news section. With fewer sports to cover, there is plenty of news in the world for us to get to, as well.

I hope that in a month or so, the sports world can pick up again. I was looking forward to the spring, especially the track and field season. Maybe we'll get to salvage some of it.

Until then, keep calm and wash your hands.

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With schools around the country closing — whether short-term or long-term — I managed to catch Darrow School athletic director Don Singleton on the phone Saturday. He had just spent the last two days helping the school get its 100-plus students out of campus early for an extended spring break. This all came days after he coached the girls basketball team to its first-ever NEPSAC championship, on the same day that the boys basketball team also won a New England title.

Talk about a whirlwind week.

"It was really great for campus and for morale and all of that," said Singleton. "Then it was like ... everyone is going home. That was the arc of the week."

The NEPSAC wins capped an exciting 14 days on the campus just across the border in New Lebanon, N.Y.

Both Darrow teams were the top-ranked teams in their respective leagues, and both won quarterfinal games in a doubleheader at the school's gym on Wednesday, March 4. The home doubleheaders continued in the semifinals of the NEPSAC tournaments on March 8, before last Sunday's championship games.

"The energy and excitement on campus for that set of events ... was fantastic," Singleton said.

Singleton, who also teaches at the school, joked that he told his students during tournament week that his mind was elsewhere. With both teams in uncharted territory, there was a lot for Singleton to figure out.

"It was just a week where all I did and thought about was basketball," he said. "That's all I did for 10 days, and it was a happy 10 days."

Singleton said the crowd traveled to the NEPSAC final game, played at Noble and Greenough in Dedham, including former administrators from the school showing up.

"Having that support there, and the happiness of the girls [winning] is what sticks out the most," Singleton said of the championship week.

Singleton should be getting ready for spring sports to start at Darrow and for his umpiring gig doing high school baseball. Instead, he can relax a bit, and soak up more of that championship feeling.

Geoff Smith can be reached at gsmith@berkshireeagle.com, @GSmith_Eagle on Twitter and 413-496-6254.


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