It’s no exaggeration to say that Trenton Catholic is dealing with more than other New Jersey schools this season.
Each girls’ basketball team and school faces a season cut short by a pandemic where teams can only play a maximum of 15 games. For Trenton Catholic, however, the future after March 6 remains cloudy.
As No.2 Catholic from Trenton prepares to face No.1 St. John Vianney at 6:30 p.m. Friday, the squad’s underclasses face an uncertain future.
The Catholic Academy of Trenton is expected to close on June 30, citing long-term financial problems amid the coronavirus pandemic. The school has been open since 1962, but the Diocese of Trenton said the school’s worsening annual deficits of $ 2 million was too difficult to overcome.
Shock was the team’s immediate reaction to the news. He was released a few days before the practice started. Players were already facing the impact of playing a shortened schedule due to the pandemic. There wouldn’t be a Tournament of Champions this season for a team that aspires to win one.
The news of the school’s upcoming closure was another big blow ahead of the start of the season.
“I was a little sad. TCA is like a powerhouse for basketball, so I was a little sad. I’m worried about where my teammates are going, ”said Jasmin Boyd. … “It was hard. It was difficult for us mentally, not knowing where they are going to go or what will happen next. We’re just trying to get through.
Boyd is one of the only seniors on the list and will be graduating in a few months. Her mind wandered over players like sophomores Zoe Brooks, Aalyah Del Rosario, and Angelica Velez.
All three are highly recruited players. Del Rosario is ranked as the No.2 player in the class of 2023 by ESPN, while Velez is ranked as a four-star rookie and Brooks a three-star prospect.
Thinking about the future while navigating a pandemic with high expectations takes its toll.
The players have done their part to pull him apart when they hit the basketball court.
“We’re not really focused right now on closing the school,” Brooks said. “We will try to put this aside until the end of the season. We just want to stay undefeated. “
There is potentially hope on the horizon.
A group of alumni and supporters got together and decided to raise funds to prevent the school from closing. The Iron Mikes Alumni Association has launched a fundraising campaign and website. A notice board has been placed on I-295 near the Hamilton exit with the words “Save Our School”. Donate to Ironmikesfund.com. ‘Sam Raymond, a school alumnus, and his family got things going for the billboard.
“We have a lot of people in place trying to save the school,” said coach Bob Fusik. “My job as the head coach, to be honest with you, is to make sure we’re ready to compete here. I think everything else will take care of itself. We have very good children. We have great kids in the classroom, so from that balance we are very lucky.
The optimism of the players prevails over the pessimism of the school closing. The first wave of shock has receded. It helped that Trenton Catholic is currently 9-0 heading into Friday’s highly anticipated game against St. John Vianney.
“When I heard the news, I felt bad because it’s my second year here, and I haven’t had (a chance) to go through my last year,” said Del Rosario. “And I felt like it was over, but I heard that TCA was definitely not closing, so I was happy about that.”
Trenton Catholic still has a lot to do on the basketball court. A win on Friday would put Fusik’s side up to number one, and they will finish there if they end the season undefeated.
He’s done a masterful job this season, making sure his players focus on the basketball court while limiting distractions.
He doesn’t worry about the future. His only concern is the present.
“My goal is just to make sure the kids are ready to play,” Fusik said. “We hope to have 15 games to play. If this is the last trip, it is the last trip. Otherwise, we will worry about next year when the season is over. “