Local sports leaders Jim Penk and Russell Houser react to pressure from DeWine to vaccinate all athletes

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Every coach can tell you how important the offseason is. This year, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine wants every athlete to do one thing before the season starts, and that is get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Every high school athlete in Ohio is due to pass a physical exam this summer before the start of the new season, the governor suggests taking the opportunity to get the shot.

“This is the way to practically 100% guarantee that you will be able to keep playing ball,” DeWine said.

The application includes students involved in the band, the theater and even the debate. Neither the governor nor the OHSAA require the vaccine.

Jim Penk is the former athletic director of Austintown. He recalls dealing with COVID guidelines, as well as texting and emailing other athletic directors every day during the seasons.

“We’re getting ready from Monday and Friday, you have a different game plan based on maybe someone made the phone call and said our team weren’t coming,” said Penk.

Penk felt that the Austintown teams accepted the COVID restrictions and worked hard to save their seasons. The Falcons’ teams only missed two preseason scrimmages, while other teams called and canceled more than 20 games.

Penk handed the role of sporting director to Russell Houser this week. He expects the Austintown teams to follow any guidelines still in place and be ready again.

“I think the main thing for students is to continue to be safe. Always making sure they wash their hands, do whatever they need to do, ”Houser said.

The vaccine is a parental decision in Austintown.

Athletes and other students involved in the extracurricular activities will be looking forward to another successful season.

“I think our students will be safe in what they do. They learned a lot from this experience last year, and I think it will continue, ”Houser said.

Penk has experience and shares a piece of advice that we all developed during the pandemic.

“Take it one day at a time because it’s going to change hour by hour,” he said.

If a member of a team or other activity falls with COVID, they will need to follow CDC guidelines on quarantine.


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