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Fairmont’s Mahoney adjusts to virus-altered job

ALTERED JOB — Fairmont High School activities administrator and head football coach Mat Mahoney, shown calling a play from the sideline during prep gridiron last fall, is adapting to his altered schedule created by recent emergence of the covid-19 pandemic in Minnesota. (Photo by Greg Abel/Sentinel archives)

FAIRMONT — The emergence of the COVID-19 virus has disrupted everyone’s daily routines and created uncertainty about the logistics of nearly every person’s livelihood.

Fairmont High School activities administrator Mat Mahoney is not immune to both the direct and peripheral effects of the current pandemic.

“Before the virus shut down classes and sports, I was usually ‘go, go, go’ with my job,” said Mahoney, who has ventured to his office at the high school every weekday since the statewide athletics closure by the Minnesota State High School League on March 13. “As a teacher, I’ve been using this time to work on figuring out the e-learning process we’re going to implement with our students.”

While outside observers may think Mahoney’s workload — as well as other area athletic directors — has been reduced due to the absence of extracurricular events, the opposite actually has occurred due to the uncertainty of how long social distancing will continue across the state and nation.

“In my role, I still have to plan for next year — lining up workers and officials for sporting events, making sure we have bus times figured out and putting schedules on the Big South (Conference) website for the fall and winter sports seasons for 2020,” said Mahoney. “While like everyone else, I really don’t know for sure what’s going to happen, I have to be prepared for when we do get the green light to move forward with the activities.”

Mahoney said he believes both the state of Minnesota government and the MSHSL have taken a logical approach to setting deadlines to help cope with the pandemic.

“It’s a fine line of being cautious because of the seriousness of our current situation and not reacting too quickly to cancel everything for the entire spring,” said Mahoney. “It’s frustrating being caught in a holding pattern, but we’ll work together to get through this tough time.

“Most high schools in Minnesota are taking their cues from the state and federal governments to this juncture, and will likely continue to do so.”

So, does Mahoney think high school sports will begin after the MSHSL’s initial moratorium that extends through Sunday, April 5?

“If I had to guess, I’d say a more realistic return would be sometime in May, but there are a lot of factors to consider overall and our current situation can change quickly in less than 24 hours,” said Mahoney.

If high school athletics would return some time in May, Mahoney anticipates that conference games/meets would be priority events, with postseason play likely adhering to current time lines, but it’s all just speculation at this point.

“I’ve heard people talking about playing baseball and softball in the summer like Iowa, but my gut feeling tells me that’s not going to happen because our state has strong Legion and VFW baseball programs in place during that time frame,” said Mahoney. “I guess we’ll find out down the road.”

While Mahoney is keeping busy with his day-to-day schedule, there is one silver lining to one of modern history’s most difficult times.

“The only perk to this is I get home before 4 in the afternoon and get to spend a lot more time with my family,” said Mahoney. “Having two girls under the age of 3 is a lot of work for my wife (Leanna), so hopefully I can lend one more set of hands to change diapers and run errands.”

Whether at the office or at home, Mahoney will still continue to stay in touch with his coaches on the latest information via the school district and state.

“I try to keep them (coaches) updated and informed on what’s going on,” said Mahoney. “Communication is key and we’re fortunate to have numerous electronic options to keep them in the know.

“Hopefully, if we self-quarantine like we’re supposed to, we’ll be safe enough to get back out on the fields sooner than later. We just have to work together to get through this situation.”

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