Summer Sports: Central Ohio athletes adjusting to COVID-19 restrictions
As has been the case since he first got involved in AAU boys basketball several years ago, D.J. Moore and his teammates have been busy of late competing on the court.
Still, not much has looked the same this summer for many youth athletes because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Moore plays for the Nova Village-Reese AAU team, which hasn't been able to compete in spring or summer events in Ohio because of restrictions on contact sports. The team made trips to Indiana in back-to-back weeks earlier in July because of differences in state restrictions.
"It felt good, but it's different," Moore said. "They're only allowing a certain amount of spectators. I'll only be able to have one of my parents get in until they count how many people are in the gym. At the place we were in, they were only allowing 250 people in the gym at a time. Everybody has to wear a mask inside and they do take your temperature before you can go in."
Moore, a rising junior for Worthington Christian who recently committed to Liberty University, has been competing on the same team as a slew of other top central Ohio players from his class. Those players include St. Charles' Josh Whiteside, Olentangy Liberty's Cooper Davis, Gahanna Lincoln's Javan Simmons, Upper Arlington's Quinn Corna and New Albany's Justin Perry.
After playing for the Indianapolis Heat the last two AAU seasons, Moore helped Nova Village-Reese reach the semifinal round of each of its first two tournaments. The team also competed in Indiana last weekend.
"For two weeks prior to our first tournament, we started practicing two days a week and having open gyms," Moore said. "We had our core guys going against some of our older teams (with Nova Village)."
Similarly to those who play basketball, the Lucky Lax girls lacrosse club program, which features numerous central Ohio athletes, competed for the first time this summer in mid-July at a tournament in Maryland.
Baseball and softball players and golfers from throughout Ohio have stayed busy all summer after their sports were approved for competition with restrictions in May.
Moira O'Reilly, a 2020 Watterson graduate, helped the Firecrackers 18U-Brown softball team capture a championship in the All-Sanctioned World Series held July 17-19 at Lou Berliner Sports Park.
Others on the team from central Ohio include McKenzi Apps-Schultz (Hilliard Bradley), Rylee Anspach (Dublin Coffman), Lily Garnett-Brown (Hilliard Darby), Emylee Preston (Westerville North), Kassidy Stanely (Pickerington Central), Rachel Reuter (Watterson) and Donna McMillen (Pickerington North).
"It was really exciting," said O'Reilly, who has committed to Babson. "We had seven tournaments so it's been a weirdly normal summer. The only thing that was really different was that in a lot of tournaments, you got seven balls at the beginning of the weekend and that we didn't shake hands, but other than that, it was completely normal. It was really good mentally to get out and do stuff again after not being able to do anything for three months."
The Central Ohio Golf Academy has held tournaments throughout the summer, including July 21 and 22 at Apple Valley.
Olentangy Orange rising senior Corbin Bentley won the boys 16-18-year-old championship with a 142, edging Hilliard Bradley rising senior Tison Alexander (143).
In the girls 16-18-year-old division, Sierra Cardi shot 160 to capture the title.
Cardi attended Olentangy Berlin as a junior but lived in North Carolina during the 2019-20 school year and will be competing for UNC-Asheville. She moved back to central Ohio earlier this year.
"(Competing this summer) has been a little odd, but not too different," Cardi said. "There are a few rules that are different, but there's only so much that can change and golf is a very individual sport, which is something I love about it. I'm grateful I can still do it.
"You're interacting with the people that you're playing with. With the pins, there's a little foam at the bottom so that they stay in all the time and it limits contact a little bit, but other than that, you're kind of by yourself."