Activities Director Q&A: Thomas Jefferson's Dustin Deterding

Activities Director Q&A: Thomas Jefferson's Dustin Deterding

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This week, The Nonpareil will speak to activities directors from the city as they prepare for the return of prep athletics with softball and baseball. Practice starts June 1, and games can be played beginning June 15. Our series continues today with Thomas Jefferson’s Dustin Deterding.

What was your initial reaction when you heard baseball and softball could be played this summer, and were you surprised?

I was a little surprised, just because June 1 was kind of the target date that we were waiting for an update, so (the decision) came about a week earlier than we expected. The lack of discussion going on prior to that point was kind of leading me to think that perhaps we wouldn’t have the season, so I was a little surprised to hear we were. There was excitement when it was announced, but then also the realization of now we have some serious work to do to put some guidelines in place to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

What has been the most challenging thing you’ve had to try and work through over these past few days?

I would say transportation has really been the No. 1 concern for us because of our conference makeup, which is primarily Council Bluffs and Sioux City. Traveling back and forth in between those locations makes for some fairly long bus trips. Having our students, coaches and bus drivers in that confined space for that amount of time is something we’re trying to navigate to create an environment that is as safe as possible so we can reduce the risk of transmission.

Have you had a chance to gauge the excitement of the kids, especially since it seemed like they might not get the chance to play this summer?

I think a lot of them were coming to terms with not having an opportunity to play, so when it was announced there was a level of excitement. In some of the discussions I’ve had with some of our coaches, parents and people of the community, there is excitement, but there’s also that realization of, how do we do we ensure that we have a successful season and hopefully keep everyone safe and healthy in the process.

With a shortened season, what has the process of re-working your schedule been like?

It hasn’t been too tough, actually. This kind of lines up with the second half of our regularly scheduled season, so with a lot of our conference games we were able to hold those days. We did make an adjustment to the softball schedule to include some more doubleheaders to cut down on travel time and try to maximize road trips. And then with some of our non-conference games, we were able to hold a lot of those dates as well or find an open date. Scheduling has been easier for myself than maybe what I initially thought when the announcement was made.

Have you discussed what the policy would be if someone on the team tests positive for COVID-19?

We’re still kind of working through that right now. (Abraham Lincoln A.D.) Jeff Novotny, myself and Council Bluffs Community School District (Chief of Student and Family Services) Tim Hamilton have been hard at work this week combing through the guidelines from the Department of Education and state athletic associations, and then both our local health organizations to gather input from all those sources. From that, we’re in the process of developing some guidelines that will fit our program. Also, we want to find consistency with our conference schools so that there’s a uniform approach.

At this point, is there a message you’d like to get out to those who will be involved in the team effort this will take to keep everyone as safe as possible this summer?

For me it would be that you can’t be too cautious. We want people to be very conscious of how they’re feeling and if they have any symptoms associated with COVID-19. People have a social responsibility to understand that if they’re exhibiting some type of symptom, they need to communicate that to local health officials, coaches or activities directors. And then, the next step is not attending events, because one individual can have a ripple effect and could impact our entire season. I think it’s super important that everyone respects the guidelines in place, but also that they’re super aware of how you’re feeling as an individual. If you’re not feeling 100% well, stay home and support as you can from home. That way you’re not putting everyone else at risk and jeopardizing our season.

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