Strongsville Athletes Use Strike as Motivation

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STRONGSVILLE, Ohio -- It's week four of the Strongsville teachers strike and everybody is starting to feel the effects, including student-athletes who have had to prepare for a spring sports schedule without their head coaches.

As a result, the baseball field and track at the high school sat idle because spring sports were shut down for two weeks.

"At first it was kind of scary because we didn't know if we were going to have a season," said junior Michael Murray.

Teams were not allowed to practice on school grounds, but that didn't stop them from getting their work in elsewhere.

"The whole junior and senior class got together we really, we figured out a game plan what we were going to do for the season," said pitcher and outfielder for the Mustangs baseball team Austin Previt.

Senior captains suddenly were leading practices, giving new meaning to team leaders.

"It really turned into our team at that point," said pitcher Cade Coulter.  "Normally the coaches say it's our team but they are still there holding our hands through everything but at that point it was more on us to take care of everything."

Instead of using the strike as an excuse for the 2013 baseball season, the Mustangs are using the strike as motivation.

"When you're winning and everything is going smoothly, you know, anybody can be good but the best teams are the teams that can come back and deal with adversity and have that define them and be their defining moment and I think this strike could be that moment for us," said catcher Brendan Lange.

"This is complete motivation for us that we truly believe that we can win a state championship this year and that is our main goal and this is the guys who can do it," added Previt.

This spring sports adversity is creating more than a special bond between teams and teammates, it's providing a bit of therapy as well.

"When we're all out here running together, working together, nobody is really worried about the strike, what they are going to do at home, how they are going to keep learning and keep moving their education forward," said Murray.

According to the student-athletes, grades are frozen, meaning whatever grades the students had before the strike started is what grade they have now and the grades are used to determine who is eligible to play.

While the teachers have been on the picket lines since March 4, the students have been attending class with substitutes.

The Strongsville Education Association and Board of Education have been unable to reach a deal and say sticking points are salaries, pensions and health care.

At the time of this report, additional bargaining sessions had not been scheduled.

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