Two weeks on from discovering their senior spring sports season was crushed by the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, local athletes were finally able to take time to really take in the magnitude of this loss.
Not only did they lose their final campaigns as athletes, but they are now dealing with non-traditional graduations, a loss of prom – a rite of passage for many students – and all in the middle of being thrust into distance learning courses to hopefully wrap up things and head to college.
It’s been a lot and especially knowing it’s still the early days of May and a whole another month of sports could have been had.
“Now that I have had the time to soak everything in, it has been hard,” Goose Creek Memorial baseball player Nate Butler said. “At first you think it’s not that bad and it will blow over and you be playing baseball again in May, but it was not like that at all. Dates kept getting pushed back and before we know it, schools were done for the year and so was sports.
“I been working out and hitting daily staying fresh for the summer because to me that will be my season before college. It is sad for seniors in every spring sport. Senior year when you’re an athlete is extra special and we couldn’t live those special moments such as senior night, our last game, our last bus ride, our last eat out. Just things like that will stick with you forever and we weren’t able to have those special moments really sucks.”
Butler said these days will just make for the kind of adversity going forward.
His fellow baseballer Gregory Smith from Barbers Hill, is remiss an 11-2 start to the season was rendered moot.
“We definitely had unfinished business,” Smith said. “We were confident that we were going to go deep into the playoffs. It was very unfortunate for all of us seniors not to be able to play baseball our senior year. I really miss playing ball. One takeaway from this situation is that you should play every game like it’s your last, and don’t take the game for granted.”
Track athletes of all kinds felt the loss when times and distances are so vital to potential college careers.
Sterling junior Bailee St. Romain feels for the seniors and the loss of such an important time.
“Spring sports is a time that is defined by sunny skies and the outdoors,” St. Romain said. “My heart goes out to all the seniors whose last season was cut short by the unfortunate situation. For all of the underclassmen, I believe it has made us work harder. At least for my teams we haven’t stopped working, we just do at-home workouts and it holds everyone more accountable for their upcoming season. If you work hard it pays off, but if you don’t, your whole team suffers.”
Barbers Hill’s Jaden Montoya was hoping to wrap her career in the 100-meter run, the 300-hurdles and 4x100 and 4x200 relays strong for a college future.
She says the pandemic has ruined her college chances and will be continuing her education at Lamar University but her inability to improve times stepped all over the chance to run for the Cardinals.
“I know I could have hit the times,” Montoya said. “I will walk on and see what I can do. But even if I walk on, I don’t believe I will be the same type of athlete because I have had all this time off. Not every athlete is going to be working out 24-7, seven days a week. When we have this time of event it’s almost like ‘why do I have to get up? There’s nothing even really there.’”
It all meant the loss of dreams.
“It’s really heartbreaking because I was promised all the way up to my senior year that I would be able to run and potentially in college,” Montoya said. “They tried to do everything in their power to try and continue our season. Just because it happened this way and it happened this year … it’s really frustrating.
“I was performing really well and this year was the first time I had hit under a 50 second in the 300 hurdles and the coaches were about ‘we will do whatever we can to get to 48.’”
Pitcher Jessica Mullins saw one of the more intriguing storylines – would the powerful Barbers Hill softball team deliver a state title behind a pitching staff featuring five Division I recruits and some big bats – was canceled before playing it out.
“I believed our team had SO much potential to go farther than we ever have the previous years,” Mullins said. “We were destined to win a state title. we worked so hard already and to know that our season was canceled was so devastating. I never even thought my senior year would end like this anyway. I pictured myself walking with my parents onto the field on senior night and having my eyes full of tears, happy tears, for it being my last home game to play on our field. I pictured my team being stoked to enter playoffs and working harder and harder each day so we could achieve our goal of winning a state championship.
“Now, all of that is gone. I can’t help but look towards the future and get excited for how my life at Texas State is going to look, but my heart goes out to all the seniors who played their very last softball game of their life. It’s heartbreaking to end a career that way. I would never wish that type of pain upon anyone.”