By Tracy Sanders and Garrett Mitchell
High school athletes have worked and trained for years, beginning in youth leagues, throughout middle school, and for the duration of their high school careers to reach their one, culminating moment. For many athletes, their senior season will be the final time they take the field for any meaningfully competitive sporting event. For others, they compete with the goal of impressing college coaches and with aspirations of playing at the highest level. With the tragic spread of COVID-19, or Coronavirus, ravaging the country and the world, athletes across the nation have seen those dreams, at best, deferred. For others, with seasons hinging barely on a slim prayer of resumption, they have been dashed altogether.
The town of Woodruff, however, is not letting their senior athletes, who for years have packed the stands, bleachers, and fence lines to cheer for, go unnoticed in their most uncertain hour. On Tuesday, throughout the downtown district, Wolverine Pride, and a love of Wolverine athletes, shone through as brightly as it ever has.
Together with the city of Woodruff, Spartanburg School District Four arranged to have banners of each senior athlete displayed from the flagpoles lining Highway 221 through town, a monument to each competitor now fighting their biggest battle yet, that of time. And time, unfortunately, is running out. It was in that vein, said Woodruff city manager Lee Bailey, that spawned the need to recognize those young men and women in the best way that their town could.
“Hopefully it will lift spirits and it was something we (City of Woodruff and School District Four) could do in honor of the kids that missed their senior sports season. It will be something they can remember,” said Bailey.Lee Bailey, City Manager, City of Woodruff
In total there are 38 spring sports senior athletes at Woodruff High School. Those athletes are represented by 19 flags now adorning Main Street, one athlete on either side. No matter which way through town you pass, there is a reminder of the years of hard work, effort, and sacrifice made by each one of a special group that are entering adulthood during a most uncertain time.
For them, what should be a time of joy, fun, and cherishing of the last few months of their grade school journey, has been replaced with fear and uncertainty.
What should be certain to them, however, is these student-athletes live in a town and attend a school that loves and appreciates them, and all students, and will rise above the unfortunate current circumstances to make sure their efforts do no go unrecognized.
According to Bailey, the banners will remain aloft for several months.
“The banners downtown are just a small token of appreciation that we have for our spring sports seniors,” added Woodruff athletic director Michael Morris. “Hopefully seeing those banners displayed in town will brighten their days in these troubling times.”