It is during these few weeks Texas high school sports would have been in full gear with playoff action
A number of local sports teams were enjoying enough success to warrant legitimate visions of greatness, yet none will be met due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Up until now, many coaches have said the right things about the loss for their players and dashed dreams of making history. But, what about the coaches themselves?
Admittedly, spring sports coaches make nowhere near what their football brethren take home, yet they put in long hours that add up to very few dollars per hour of effort. The investment is emotional, physical and real.
So how have some of the coaches of the more successful teams this spring – Goose Creek Memorial girls soccer, Robert E. Lee boys soccer, Sterling boys soccer, tennis and baseball, Barbers Hill baseball, softball, track, golf and girls soccer, Crosby softball and Anahuac baseball – handled the loss of what could have been and all that investment down the drain because of a bug?
Stacy Tucker, coach of the girls track team at Barbers Hill, has mixed emotions because she bemoans the loss of a handful of seniors, but returns a bevy of talent for 2021. She also has experienced profound loss and that has allowed her to keep things in perspective.
“I knew we were going to be strong this year and we didn’t have too many seniors, but three of them were going to make an impact for us,” Tucker said. “I don’t know what we will have coming up from the junior school level since they only had one track meet. It’s upsetting because I couldn’t finish the cross-country season with them since I was on bed rest. I have tried to tell them and myself that ‘it sucks and it’s time we are never going to get back, but there is nothing we can do to control it at this point. All we can learn from it and maybe get a bit stronger.’
“Based on what’s happened to me over the past year and losing a child it’s a different perspective. If that hadn’t happened, I would have taken this a lot longer than I have. There have been days where I have reduced to tears like ‘we should have been regionals’ or when the state meet would have been going on. All we can do is learn to control how we respond to it.”
Goose Creek Memorial girls soccer was 21-1-1 when everything ended and head coach Roman Huizar saw a historic run get quashed into a flood of speculation of what could have been while looking ahead.
“Initially, you are heartbroken and its surreal with you holding out hope, but when word came down that it wasn’t going to happen you hated it because you couldn’t finish what you started,” Huizar said. “From my perspective, it’s time to put it in the past and look forward to next year. As tough as it is to wonder, I told the girls it was just unfortunate how things played out.”
Huizar admitted he could see the Lady Patriots having made a big playoff run with a narrow win in the bi-district round against Barbers Hill, another victory in the next game and set themselves up for a big regional quarterfinal against Port Neches-Groves.
“Other factors could impact your season, but you never think that it could be a pandemic that is the downfall of your season,” Huizar said. “The first-round game would have been a tough game. I think we would have gone three deep for sure and even after that I felt we had a good chance to go farther than that. There was nothing we feared. We could have played against anyone. This was a special group.”
Sterling baseball had seen the program potentially reaching an apex in head coach Adam Shibley’s sixth season with the Rangers sitting pretty at 10-3 and as a District 21-6A favorite when the world stopped.
“It’s how abruptly it ended,” Shibley said. “We were in the middle of the game (at the Herrington Tournament) – we weren’t playing – I had to walk out on the field and stop the next game. Those kids, they didn’t know that would be the last time they’d be playing, last bus ride home.
“I wouldn’t call it depression, but I would call it shock almost. It’s almost being lost, and I mean still until this very day. You don’t want to move on too fast and think of the next step too early without paying homage of the players that are still here. That’s a very fine line. When do you start?”
The Barbers Hill baseball team was off to a 11-2 season and head coach David Denny has admitted he is not one to let the uncontrollable or ‘what ifs’ define his course of action.
For him it’s about being in a holding pattern and just waiting for the speculation to become concrete to know what they are going to do.
The time invested is for the players and not for anything else really.
“Anyone who does high school coaching for the money is not real smart: We do it because we love it,” Denny said. “The majority of us are not driving a Mercedes or living in fabulous houses.
“We were playing just fine and doing just fine making a run for the playoffs. I miss the competition and I miss the kids – even the ones in the classroom. I don’t have time to sit back ‘oh pitiful me and here is what I am missing.’ You worry about the kids and the people who aren’t getting paid and lost their jobs. I have been through more trauma than what we are going through right now. I don’t think about how horrible this is.”
Denny added that it’s more about having a routine “thrown for a loop” and how one handles it.”