“Finan” a Way to Make it Happen

By Zach Albert
Dunmorean Intern            

As we continue through the 2020-2021 academic and athletic seasons, we are highlighting the time and effort put in by Dunmore Athletic Director Mark Finan and his teams. 

The completion and success of the 2020 football and 2020 volleyball seasons are examples of accepting the responsibilities involved in keeping everyone as safe as possible while setting a foundation for the winter and spring sports seasons.

With a similar diligence to remaining safe in preparation, the basketball teams are continuing their seasons and are approaching the playoffs. 

When asked about preparation for these athletic and academic seasons, Finan explains: “Summertime is the start; scheduling the junior high and seven varsity sports for the upcoming fall seasons with the unknowns still present was a challenge. We actively communicate with the PIAA and LIAA and take this as seriously as anything you can plan for. 

“Scheduling challenges include ensuring officials, workers, security are all available for the scrimmages, exhibitions before the regular seasons begin. We are thankful the fall seasons went through as smoothly as they did.” 

Following up on that response, we asked about how he responded to the positive COVID-19 result of a member of the boys’ basketball program, and we thank his candidness in his response: 

“First action was to reach out to the member of the program who tested positive, checking on his status. The next was communicating with the COVID-19 Coordinator, and then all staff within the program. Continuing to follow all protocols and advice from the health and sporting organizations as we play the postponed games is key to ensuring we qualify for a league title as safely as we can.” 

We then asked Finan if there were differences in preparation per sport, and his response prompted his questions of how mask mandates will be applied in baseball and softball. 

“For a sport like basketball, where glasses are less likely to fog up with the indoor-controlled conditions, the mask mandate was easier to adjust to. In a sport like baseball or softball, with the ball as dangerous to the human body as it is, it is not as simple to mandate the mask, as it can cause glasses to fog up and compromise the safety of our student athletes, he explains.

“ I am looking forward to having discussions with all entities involved in getting a solution, potentially the Gaiter mask, which is becoming more popular, in place for all to safely enjoy these sports.” 

We then asked about any learning points through the pandemic able to be used moving forward, and before explaining further, he emphatically says “Absolutely.” 

 “The Return to Safe Play Plan continues to be reviewed as we continue towards normalcy. We’ve created great services to the community through a multitude of platforms. First, with the help of Rich Banick, we have launched DHSTV.net, which uses YouTube to host the videos, where we are broadcasting each home game live. 

“We thank Nick Mack of NPF for basketball play-by-play, and statistician Robert (RG4) Grady for streaming our swim team coverage. Social media outlets like Twitter are also used for those not yet familiar with our video streaming service.” 

We asked if there are any other announcements, comments, and Finan did have one: 

 “We are bringing back the Golden Age Pass for all Dunmore citizens 62 years or older, as we want our long-term Bucks at the events and knowing they are appreciated for attending!”

“Successful” Offseason Brings Excitement for Bucks, Coach McHale

Bucks Coach Kevin McHale is shown with his sons, Colin, 8, and Jack, 11, at the stadium in Dunmore.

Courtesy: Rich Banick Photography

By Zach Albert
Dunmorean Intern

In a borough that has strong pride in its football history, Dunmore has an energy around the beginning of each season that Dunmoreans never forget. As a winning culture has existed since the days of Coach Jack Henzes, Coach Kevin McHale uses Henzes’ “invaluable” knowledge and experiences to continue leading his team to success.

Despite 2020 having about two months without any COVID-19 guidelines, preparation for the season remained the cornerstone throughout. “From January on, attendance turnout has been great and has been maintained, even since the beginning of shutdowns and implementing online meetings and face shields,” McHale says.

Coach McHale emphasized a “day-by-day” mentality with his players and staff, while maximizing the reps available. “Usually we would have as many reps as possible, but with the health guidelines limiting the amount of them, we are doing the best we can with face shields and other protective measures.”

While physical preparation and conditioning are important to success in game situations, mental preparation is just as important. The intangibles of team chemistry and the unwillingness to give up are two that Coach McHale has noticed in his players this offseason. 

“Our senior class leadership has been exceptional. We have a great mix of talent and knowledge from over ten returning players and new players with skills in other sports, and we as coaches expect all to contribute,” he notes.

Challenges certainly existed for Coach McHale and his staff, aa there were times the football season was in jeopardy. As meetings were typically in closed spaces with the team, staggered schedule starts and online meetings were implemented to prevent losing these meetings altogether. 

“The student players have kept their heads up throughout the offseason despite the challenges and changes put upon them. A real threat of canceling the season a few months ago did not stop them.”

With the season now starting at home with Wallenpaupack, the Bucks will experience a shortened season, and Coach McHale is confident his team is as ready as they can be going in. 

UPDATE: The Dunmore Bucks opened their season on Friday, Oct. 2, with a 17-6 win over Wallenpaupack Area.

An Athletic Season that Almost Was Not

Courtesy: Rich Banick Photography

By Zach Albert
Dunmorean Intern

The Dunmore Bucks football team had a definitive start to their season with a win over Wallenpaupack Area on Friday, Oct. 2, but a collective effort on the administrative side made this possible. Working diligently with state health officials and following state guidelines throughout the pandemic, Superintendent John Marichak continually put the safety of his students, coaches, and staff at the top of his priority list.

Offseason workouts for Dunmore typically begin after the December holiday break, so January and February 2020 workouts went ahead as planned. As COVID-19 spread worldwide and a pandemic was declared in early March, shutdowns and changes in procedures did not deter the administration, coaching staff, and players from making needed adjustments.

“The guidelines provided by the CDC, federal, state, and local governments during the COVID-19 pandemic are part of ensuring our students, staff, and faculty remain safe. We also have implemented other recommendations through the diligent work of our school board, athletic directors, Mark Finan, Timothy Hopkins, Maureen Burke, and our maintenance staff,” Marichak points out

“All have been phenomenal in getting our academic and athletic seasons executed as we have thus far while keeping the safety of our students, faculty and staff at the forefront. Though challenges existed in all phases throughout this pandemic, the offseason workouts were able to occur, and we are excited for the regular season to start. Not having spectators will be tough for the students, but they know the community will be behind them.”

With a limited schedule, each game can arguably have “more impact” than a year with ten or more games. After the opener against Wallenpaupack, the Bucks are on the road for the first time against Mid Valley. 

The Bucks return home for the Oct. 16 matchup against Lackawanna Trail, followed by a trip to their old nemesis in Lakeland. Though there will not be a hostile crowd in this Oct. 23 matchup, the pressure of the penultimate game exists. Dunmore finishes the regular season at home against Riverside on Oct. 30, Halloween Eve.

 “Mark Finan, Tim Hopkins, and the school board worked hard with both the LIAA (Lackawanna Interscholastic Athletic Association) and the PIAA (Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association) on scheduling and we are thankful a season schedule was eventually decided and agreed on,” Marichak says.