No time for goodbyes

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced friends and teammates apart

Seneca+Anthony+hurls+a+pitch.+Anthony%2C+a+sophomore%2C+has+already+played+her+last+game+this+season.

Tim Tschoepe

Seneca Anthony hurls a pitch. Anthony, a sophomore, has already played her last game this season.

Jackson Posey, Sports Editor

At 4:02 p.m. on Thursday, the University Interscholastic League (UIL) made an expected (read: dreaded) statement.

It’s over.

After Gov. Greg Abbott’s announcement earlier Friday that schools would close for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, the buzz about the UIL cancellations grew louder and louder, until finally the shoe dropped. Calling the press release unpopular would be a massive understatement.

“I was really upset,” said Seneca Anthony, a sophomore pitcher. “I knew that we were on our way to… a really good season, and that got put off, and it was just really hard to hear.”

But the pain doesn’t end on the field. Many players have been on teams together their entire lives, and are crushed that it ended this way.

“[Finding out] was really hard on me,” senior infielder Sydney Drott said. “I’m still having a difficult time with it being over. I grew up playing with most of this team, and they have all become family to me.

“To know that I already played my last game on the field with these girls is heartbreaking, but I also couldn’t be more grateful for the memories we have made with the time we had.”

The decision had been brewing since March 13, when the UIL suspended its first batch of events. But it still caught people off guard. 

“I realized [the UIL might cancel the season] when we got [suspended] for the first time,” Anthony said. “Then I kept hearing on the news about how much worse the virus was getting, and I didn’t want to believe it but I always knew it was possible,”

Before their seasons were officially cancelled, players could already see the writing on the wall. And they were not happy about it.

It definitely hurt,” senior pitcher Shea Walker said. “We got off to a really good start this season, and we were really looking forward to keeping it going into district play. And the suspension just hurt, ‘cause we just wanna play”

The decision hurt every team, but decimated baseball in particular, which had a shot at a state title run behind six college commits and strong pitching–in 14 games, the team held opponents to two runs or fewer six times. 

“We had two games [March 13], and I kinda realized there was a chance there was a potential cancellation for the season before the first game,” catcher Chandler Cole said on the Fieldhouse Rock podcast. “Coach Koehl kinda approached us and said, you know, he didn’t really know what was going on, and he was unsure what would happen, but he basically said, ‘let’s go out and play like it’s our last, because you never know what will happen.’”

It was their last. They finished the year with an 11-3 record and a bevy of unfulfilled dreams. The same goes for softball, who finished 13-6, and track, which set a 4×100 meter relay record (41.8 seconds).

Everyone is living in a painful world right now, one in which fear has gripped the hearts of the masses and turned dreams to nightmares. When will the world reopen? No one knows. People are starving, and no one is there to help them. In the long run, are high school sports worth the risk? Probably not. But there is something sadly poetic about many people’s last glimmer of hope fading, fading, fading, before disappearing completely.

The world will never be the same after this pandemic. But for those with the ability, with the heart to do so, reach out to the nearest senior. Let them know you care. Many of them have watched their world crumble as graduations, sports, academics and friendships fade away without getting so much as a chance to say goodbye.

“I walked into my kitchen this morning and my mom told me that school had been canceled,” Anthony said. “Then we had a Google Meets with the softball team, where we had a heart-to-heart talk about everything, and how the season went, and what we were planning on doing.

“Of course I do (wish I could’ve said goodbye). I mean, we always have FaceTime. But it’s not the same as saying goodbye in person.”

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