The people you're about to read about are like most of us during this COVID-19 pandemic.
They all love sports.
They all miss sports.
And they are all longing for its return.
The sports staff at The Advocate and Times-Picayune caught up with six people to tell their stories about how they have coped for the past 11 weeks without watching and being a part of the games we all so dearly love.
Three-sport official: high school football, baseball, volleyball
Proof that every book tells a story can be found in Brian Wynne’s possession.
“There are passages highlighted in yellow and others underlined in black,” Wynne explains. “And I always write notes in the margins, too. You’re supposed to know the rules when you’re an official, but you also need to understand them and how to interpret them. I take that seriously.”
How seriously? The 63-year-old has three personally inscribed books — one each for football, baseball and volleyball. He works all three sports. Some might label Wynne an overachiever. "Believer in high school sports" is a description that fits Wynne best.
“I got into it because I wanted to give something back,” Wynne said officiating. “Growing up in New Jersey, sports, and baseball in particular, were a big part of my life.”
Wynne was in his 35th year as a high school baseball umpire in Louisiana when the coronavirus pandemic shut down the 2020 season in March. His final game was Springfield at Live Oak — a nondistrict game at LOHS. It was his 10th game in a new season.
Like others, the season held promise — not only for the players, but also for Wynne, who has officiated 20 championship games during his career. He also is a 15-year football official, working as an umpire in the middle of defenses.
Wynne followed his older brothers to Louisiana and LSU 45 years ago, and he obtained two law enforcement degrees. A 32-year Louisiana state trooper, Wynne worked his way up to the rank of lieutenant colonel before retiring two years ago.
Unafraid to step out of his comfort zone, the 6-foot-6 Wynne added volleyball to his repertoire after retirement. He considers it another way to give back.
“I knew I could learn the rules and the mechanics. Understanding how to make calls in certain situations was my biggest concern,” Wynne said. “I’ve had some great officials graciously help me learn those things.
“When you stand there with our back to the crowd and a rally starts, there is nothing like it. Fans get into it and you feel the momentum shift each time the ball crosses the net.”
These days, Wynne ponders something else — the future of high school sports for 2020-21 in a COVID-19 world.
“I hated it for the players, especially the seniors this spring,” Wynne said. “I get to come back next year. Those seniors won’t. Keeping everyone is healthy is most important, and I think the LHSAA is doing that.
“Now, time for summer baseball is slipping away. We do not know what will happen this fall. I hope we can play … people need it.”