Senior athletes stunned by Covid-19

Published 11:45 am Wednesday, March 18, 2020

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When the school system decided to shut down and put a halt to the spring sports schedule it left many parents, coaches and players confused and heartbroken. As they sit at home away from teammates and the games they love to play with a passion unequalled, they began to think about what would happen if the season gets canceled all together.

It is supposed to be the best time of their lives and possibly the last remaining chance to prove themselves worthy to potential college scouts and coaches, one last chance to battle alongside some of their life long friends, one last time to feel the emotions and sheer adrenaline of performing to a cheering crowd; however, they now sit at home and wonder if that opportunity is gone all because of Covid-19.

These players know that it’s in the best interest of everyone involved but they have a hard time coping with the fact that their athletic career at the high school level may end to something so tiny they can’t even see.

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I asked a few high school seniors to share their feelings as a way of helping them cope, a way for them to release the disappointment, pain and anxiety. Here is what they said.

Claiborne High School Senior basketball and baseball player Blaine Caylor: “I just feel like our time has been wasted. All the countless hours in the cages, countless hours hitting, countless hours fielding, all the hours of dedication just thrown away. It’s not fair, this could’ve been our year to be looked at by a scout, have a coach come look at us, but it doesn’t even matter at this point because half our season will be gone.”

Daniel Atkins, Claiborne High School baseball and basketball senior:

“I am blown away by the recent events with the Corona virus. This is my senior year and I should be making memories that I will always remember at school with my friends instead I am working. No baseball game, no practice, and no after school activities. I have been waiting three years for my senior season and it’s finally here and I am not even getting to play. This season was my last season to show college baseball coaches what I can do but I don’t even get a chance now. All I can do now is pray hard that this virus passes by quick so we might salvage what’s left of our senior season.”

Cumberland Gap football and soccer athlete Drew Ramsey said this, “As a senior this year, the worry about Covid-19 has been a worry and for some an expectation. As senior athletes we know that each game could be our last but we never thought that could be a possibility for how it ends. We are hoping and praying that this two week break is all that is taken from us. This is the last chance we get to play with our friends, wear our school colors and play in front of our home town fans. It’s an unfortunate event we have to face but it’s a challenge that we will overcome. There is a lot of unfinished work and unearned success waiting for these seniors and we hope to finish this year out, our year. Please pray that our senior year does not come to such an abrupt end but if it does I can gladly say that I played for the best school in the state of Tennessee and nothing gives me a greater sense of pride than being a Cumberland Gap Panther. May God bless and protect us.”

Senior Lady Bulldogs softball player Rachel Cupp said, “Senior year, you’re the leader.” “Senior year is your time to shine.” “Senior year will be the best year!” These are the comments you hear going into the beginning of your last year playing high school softball/baseball, your last year playing the game you love the most. I’m at a total loss of words thinking about how my last year of softball could end and I have played a total of three games. My season could possibly end without me hitting my final dinger. My season could end without getting a senior night. My season could possibly end without me being able to have that feeling of walking off the field I have considered to be my happy place since the age of five. It has been said that the seniors could come back next year and play but by then we will be starting a new chapter in our lives. Although, it’s hard to start a new chapter whenever the last one never got to be fully finished. To most people, softball/baseball is just a game, activity, or hobby. But softball/baseball to me, to us seniors it’s a way of life, it’s a love, it’s what we have grown up on since the ages of five and six years old, it’s our sanctuary, and our safe place. Please let us have our senior year moments. Let us have our outstanding plays, crazy good hits, hilarious bus rides (where we put on a concert), and even errors on the field. We deserve our sport and we deserve our year! #classof2020.”

Cumberland Gap soccer senior Jared Peters is extremely upset over it and had this to say, “I just wish they would give me my diploma and end it.”

Cassidy Smith a tennis player and cheerleader for the Panthers said this, “I am a senior at the Gap. I have cheered and played tennis all four years of high school. Although I got to finish my cheer season, there is a chance I may not even get to start my last ever tennis season. It really breaks my heart because this is something I wouldn’t have ever imagined happening. I didn’t think my senior year would get basically taken from me. I’ve had tennis three days a week for the past month and I didn’t know that the last practice I went to, might’ve been my last ever. We hadn’t even started playing matches yet. At this moment, the only thing I can do is pray that God will heal this mess and trust in his plans.”

A Cumberland Gap parent who wanted to remain anonymous had this concern, “I am very disappointed but optimistic that we can get through this and salvage some of the season. All the years of hard work and training has been to this point taken away from them. All the players that may be moving on to play college sports are confused and worried but remain hopeful it will all work out.”

Another worried parent from Claiborne High said this, “My senior called his teammates for an unofficial practice at a field not on school grounds and I was overwhelmed at the ones that actually showed up. There were no coaches, totally not school related but there they were; working as if nothing was wrong. It’s my prayer that God will help and two weeks will be all but who knows at this point.”

One thing is certain, sports are more important than most in the community realize and the hurt and disappointment being felt by not only the athletes but also the parents is very real.