WHEELING, W.Va. — Adam Shinsky was feeling good about the way Wheeling Central’s boys basketball team was playing.
An assistant coach for six years with the Maroon Knights, Shinsky had recently seen Central claim the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference 2A championship and win a sectional title game.
Last Wednesday, Central notched its fifth straight win when it ended on a 6-0 run to edge St. Marys in a Class A Region I co-final, 71-67.
Mel Stephens’ team was to play in its 12th consecutive state tournament as a No. 5 seed the following week, or so it thought. The next day, sports were put on hold for the time being due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. Girls basketball teams that remained in the state tournament went home, while boys basketball regionals in Class AA were called off.
“We found out 20 minutes after the (St. Marys) game we’d have a rematch with Notre Dame and we had really good feelings,” Shinsky said. “It was the first time we’d been healthy in a long time.”
Indeed, with the return of 6-foot-5 Clayton Abate to the lineup, the Maroon Knights were a different team — and it showed in their play down the stretch.
Now, like the rest of the remaining basketball teams across the state, Central is in wait-and-see mode.
“We had a chance to have a very quick meeting on Thursday and said, ‘Don’t lose hope. There’s always a chance,’” Shinsky said. “Especially since Governor (Jim) Justice is a basketball guy, we thought if everything gets back to rolling, the tournament will be played. You never know what happens.”
Shinsky is also a realist though, and understands the chances are looking more bleak by the day that the Maroon Knights get a chance to finish what they started.
“If they give us the opportunity to finish, we’ll finish,” he said. “If not, we’re proud of what we accomplished. We were short-handed a lot of the season and we won the OVAC championship, a sectional championship and a regional championship. If that was the end, we weren’t thrilled about it, but we’d accept it.”
For Shinsky, however, the impact of COVID-19 has been much bigger than his role with the Central hoops team.
For more than five years, Shinsky has held the title of Executive Director at the Wheeling YMCA.
Already, two of the eight YMCA locations in West Virginia — Clarksburg and Beckley — have closed.
Wheeling remains open for now.
“It’s a day by day thing,” Shinsky said. “Us, Charleston and Huntington are three of the bigger ones and still remain open, but on a very, very limited basis.”
The Wheeling YMCA is providing emergency child care, primarily for people in the medical field and first responders. Childen can’t get in the door without first having their temperature taken and it being “what it’s supposed to be.”
The YMCA remains open to members, but is not offering guest passes or daily passes.
“The longest we’ve been closed is six hours because of a flood,” Shinsky said. “This is all uncharted waters for us and we’ve taken every precaution to hopefully stay open. (Many) gyms are shutting down and deemed unsafe. I want to keep everybody safe, but the Y is a lot more than just a gym and a place to swim, workout and play basketball. We’re a service organization. We need to be in service right now.”
Shinsky said Wheeling’s YMCA has canceled most of its programs, though a basketball clinic for kids went on last Sunday, as did a pitching clinic the day before.
“My background in the Y before I became the Executve Director was the Sports Program Director and youth sports is a huge part of my life,” Shinsky said. “I have three kids and my son is in kindergarten and he’s just old enough to start playing stuff now. I want to keep everybody healthy and I know how important this is, but it’s been hard because the kids just want to be out here competing and doing stuff.”