Busy families adjusting to spring without sports

  • Bartlett's Nick Kantzavelos gloves a groundball during action last season.

      Bartlett's Nick Kantzavelos gloves a groundball during action last season. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Grayslake North's Jessica Pozezinski, center, celebrates a point with her teammates during action last fall.

      Grayslake North's Jessica Pozezinski, center, celebrates a point with her teammates during action last fall. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Former Fenton head baseball coach and current Bison assistant Ron Janik has a son and daughter who play baseball and softball, respectively, at Wauconda.

    Former Fenton head baseball coach and current Bison assistant Ron Janik has a son and daughter who play baseball and softball, respectively, at Wauconda. DAILY HERALD FILE PHOTO

 
 
Updated 3/28/2020 3:12 PM

Juggling schedules and balls is just life for a family of J's.

Now, parents Joe and Julie Pozezinski and their children Jacob, Jenna and Jess suddenly have their hands in the air and nothing to juggle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We 'were' very busy," Julie Pozezinski said with a laugh. "My calendar in April and May just explodes. There is no blank day on my calender. We went from something every single day, multiple things on lots of day, to ... I just erased it, and I'm looking at a blank page pretty much. That's crazy for our family. We are [usually] so busy that [now] we don't know what to do with ourselves."

Julie jokes.

The Pozezinskis don't sit on their athletic hands. But with the COVID-19 pandemic shutting spring sports for both college (Jenna is a junior softball player at Concordia University in Wisconsin) and high school (Jess is a junior softball player for Grayslake North and juggles club volleyball, too), life has pitched a curveball to a family of hitters. The Concordia and Grayslake North softball teams had to cancel their respective spring trips to Florida. The Pozezinskis planned to make both trips.

"The kids have gotten into a really good routine of getting outside," said Julie, who coaches for the Wisconsin Juniors volleyball program. "Jess has the Bownet and (hitting) tee out in the front yard, and she's working hitting with her sister, and their coaches have sent workouts home for them to do on their own in the basement. We do have family walks every afternoon at the forest preserve just to get out and get some air. We're trying to keep them active, but for kids that are just [usually] so busy it's definitely a humongous change of pace for us."

Bartlett booster George Kantzavelos is the father of three kids, including Nick, the youngest, who's a junior on the baseball team and a two-year varsity football player. A season on hold can't be easy for the Kantzaveloses.

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"It's been really heart-wrenching," George Kantzavelos said. "I feel for the boys and all the athletes. We were really expecting to have an exciting (baseball) season, especially with a new coach (Christopher Baum) coming in. Our boys were geared up and ready to go, and now their balloon was deflated."

"There's no game to go to"

Routines have been interrupted for both athletes and parents.

"Once the season starts, you get your routine," Kantzavelos said. "You go to work, you get excited to come home and go to the game. Now there's nothing to get excited about. There's no game to go to."

For Ron Janik, there are no games for him, his son and his daughter. The former head baseball coach for Fenton, before stepping down to be involved with his kids' ball-playing endeavors, Janik returned last year to serve as a varsity assistant under Dave Schwabe. Camdek Janik, a University of Illinois commit, is a junior catcher for Wauconda. Calli Janik is a sophomore catcher for Wauconda's varsity softball team.

Janik (Fenton) and his wife, Cherie (Lake Zurich), are both special education teachers. They do their own juggling when it comes to trying to watch their children play spring ball.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We're their biggest fans," Ron Janik said of Camden and Calli. "[Not being able to watch them play] is disappointing for us because we enjoy watching them and their friends play so much."

Wauconda's baseball team typically travels south to Marion on break. This year, for the first time, Wauconda's softball team planned to travel to Tennessee.

"The disappointment was big because they had done some fundraising for it," Ron Janik said. "Calli was specifically [excited] knowing how much fun her brother has going on these spring trips with the high school team. You do (trips) with your travel team, but the high school team is a different group of friends and it's your high school."

What families are learning is that a suddenly full house can be fulfilling.

Ty Janik, a former Wauconda baseball player and the oldest child of Ron and Cherie, is home from Purdue.

"The silver lining is that each night we're here, and we're eating sit-down dinners together at a reasonable hour, as opposed to eating in the car," Ron Janik said. "I'm hoping that if we can find positives about this, it's families reconnecting."

At the Pozezinski's home, oldest son Jacob, who graduated last May from the University of Wisconsin, is around too.

"At one point, when (Jacob and Jenna) were both gone, I thought, 'I would give anything to have my whole family back together for a nice, extended length of time, just family with no sports and nothing else,' " mom Julie said.

"It's happened."

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