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Bemidji High School AD Troy Hendricks shuffles schedules during coronavirus pause

Lumberjack sports have been paused because of Bemidji Area Schools’ decision to cancel all school and activities from Tuesday, Jan. 18, through Sunday, Jan. 22, due to COVID-19 cases and other illnesses affecting staffing levels across the district.

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Bemidji hosted the Rick Lee Invite on Jan. 14-15 at the BHS Gymnasium, one of the Lumberjacks' final home events before facing an unexpected week-long shutdown.
Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI — It’s been a wild week for Troy Hendricks.

While the gyms, rinks and pools have been silent, the Bemidji High School Activities Director has been working feverishly to reschedule events and consult with coaches. He’s had plenty to do despite – or, more accurately, because of – Bemidji Area Schools’ decision to cancel all school and activities from Tuesday, Jan. 18, through Sunday, Jan. 22 , due to COVID-19 cases and other illnesses affecting staffing levels across the district.

“It's weird because you have your evenings off, which this time of year, myself and my assistants typically don't have too many Tuesdays or Thursdays or weekends where we're not attending games,” Hendricks said. “So there's a little bit more time at home, but at the same time, a little bit more stress during the day.”

That stress consists of ensuring BHS makes up as many events as possible once the Lumberjacks are cleared to return to action.

“(We’re) just trying to make sure that if and when we come back on Monday, we get as many of these contests that we've had to postpone back on the schedule without overtaxing the teams, without overscheduling,” Hendricks said.

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The Lumberjacks celebrate Bella Webb’s (10) goal in the first period against Roseau on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021, at the Bemidji Community Arena. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

While Hendricks worked the phones, he awaited news of the school district’s plans moving forward. On Friday morning, BAS announced that in-person learning will resume on Monday, Jan. 24 , meaning extracurriculars can also restart. The first games on the calendar are Tuesday, Jan. 25.

Yet the hurdle isn’t necessarily all the way cleared just yet.

“How many practices we’re going to be without our athletes in the midseason is so unusual,” Hendricks said. “The key is to get back and practicing and competing so we don't lose the physical conditioning, the timing, the team culture that they've been trying to create.”

Hendricks also expressed some concern about athletes in certain sports returning to competition quickly after a week off.

“The danger involved, there's some sports that you take too much time off, and you're starting over,” Hendricks said. “And you can't just expect them to go back and compete on Tuesday. So there's a lot of variables that are different from any other year that we're trying to tackle in midstride and make sure that we're doing what's in the best interest of our kids.”

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Troy Hendricks in 2020.
Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer

The activities department has been directly affected by this latest outbreak of sickness, with students out with COVID-19 and flu-like symptoms “more frequently than in years past” and staff and coaches having to quarantine, Hendricks said.

“It hasn't been anything extreme where I'm nervous about the number of athletes and/or the number of coaches that are out,” Hendricks said. “It has been one here, two there. And hopefully, with the quarantining and kids being out all week, we should be looking fairly good next week with our numbers.”

It’s been a unique week, and one that Hendricks hopes not to repeat.

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“We are eager and very, very hopeful that we can be back to some kind of normalcy on Monday,” he said.

Christian Babcock is a sports reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer. He trekked to Bemidji from his hometown of Campbell, Calif., after graduating from the Cronkite School at Arizona State University in 2021. Follow him on Twitter at @CB_Journalist for updates on the Lumberjacks and Beavers or to suggest your favorite local restaurant.
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