We, as a society, are living through an unprecedented disaster as our country, and the world, have been paralyzed by the grip of the Coronavirus pandemic. Schools, businesses, and most non-essential industry has been halted, citizens around the world are quarantined in fear and uncertainty, and many have lost their lives during this tragically ongoing outbreak.
In all of this, however, there is a group that is also affected that, perhaps, we don’t recognize as often. Our athletes, particularly high school athletes, are seeing and experiencing something that, in their short lives, they have never endured. For many of these young men and women there will be no college scholarships to play their respective sports at the next level. Some will, but for others, if their seasons are unable to resume, they will most likely never again play a meaningful contest.
These young men and women are afraid, too. Uncertainty abounds and these athletes are besieged by many conflicting emotions. They have a voice to be heard, thoughts to share, and now, in their most uncertain hour, some of our Woodruff senior spring sports athletes open up about their sports, a final season potentially lost, and a pandemic that is their first true challenge as they approach adulthood.
These are their thoughts, published in their own words.
B.J. Bailey – Senior, Baseball
“The biggest adjustment of not playing baseball is not being able to get better as a team. It is forcing me to work on my own and better myself rather than as a team. The college coaches that I’m in contact with, they let me know high school baseball is not the end of the journey. As an athlete, you can never come to terms with not being on the field. It’s what us athletes live for. I pray that the season resumes but what I am most proud of is the example that we set as Woodruff High athletes. We always set the bar a lot higher.”
Morgan Barnett – Senior, Girls Soccer
“Being away from the classroom and off the field is such a difficult change. Being a student athlete and sharing a bond with my classmates and my teammates is something I miss dearly. In this hard journey, I know there is a light at the end of this tunnel. My family has taught me that God has a plan, and He doesn’t waste a hurt, meaning there is a whole purpose for this. They remind me to stay strong and continue to work because there will be a comeback for my classmates, teammates, and my friends. I believe we will go back to school and hope this nightmare will soon be over. I miss my friends at school and I truly miss my second home, the soccer field.”
Sharita Dial – Senior, Track
“Since we have not been able to go back to school, I have found it so hard to focus and I have zero motivation to do any of my work because I am so worried about not being in school and not being able to play my favorite sport. Track is my motivation and now that there’s no more of it, I have no motivation. I just feel like it’s all over for me. It’s my senior year and graduation was so close, I was almost done, and then this comes. My biggest motivation was my friends, track, and teachers. Track meant everything to me. All of this work is so overwhelming and I would find it much easier with me being in school. I would give anything to be back in school right now and run track. I feel like track is my only way to college. I almost made it to state last year in long jump just by just one inch. I was so determined to make sure I didn’t make a mistake this year. All I can do is just pray and hope for the best and leave it in God’s hands. Let me say this, us seniors have come so far. What would it be like for us to not have the chance to play our sport or dance one last time at prom? Would it really be a senior year?”
Jacob Carpenter – Senior, Boys Soccer
“It is really difficult to find time to practice soccer given that it is suggested to stay in quarantine and to do all of the schoolwork packets provided by the school. Coping with the inability to practice or play soccer during the week is stressful. It is hard to do the packets knowing that there are no teachers there to help you. You are all on your own. My mom just keeps pushing me, helping me move forward through this bad time, and to not look back. I now look at this as some adversity to push through. It has helped me to realize the truth faster, which is that us students may never be able to go back to the sport that we love. My mom also has helped me to realize that I must practice and stay fit so that when we do possibly come back, we can kick butt. I am proud that I played for this school in soccer and football. I loved the time I had here. The friends I met and excellent coaches, I would never give that up. I hope for a resolution and that whoever is in charge of putting us back in play realizes that we are hungry to play again, not just Woodruff, but other teams too. I want to be able to tell my kids and grandkids that we fought and were able to overcome the possible shutdown of the season because that is what our senior class is able to do, not that as a senior my last season was stripped away due to Coronavirus.”
Taylor Jackson – Senior, Track
“I honestly have not had a steady routine with everything that’s been going on. I feel lost somehow, like my life is missing something. My biggest source of encouragement right now comes from my family and friends. We have come together trying to make ourselves feel better about what’s going on and trying to learn how to accept the fact we might not ever walk the halls again together, dance our last dance together, or walk that stage receiving our diplomas. The class of 2020 is so close to becoming alumni of Woodruff High School. Before all of this happened, I was able to have one track meet. Do you really call that a senior season? This was the year for seniors to shine the most, and I want back out on that field, but if it all comes to an end completely then I am proud of the all the years I’ve ran track, the coaches, and all the teammates I have had over the years. My hope for the resolution of this crisis is for us to come together and make a way for the seniors to have somewhat of a senior year.”
Caitlyn Morris – Senior, Girls Soccer
“One thing that has been hard is staying connected to my team. It has been weird not seeing them every day. I felt like we were just getting into a good routine and now we’ve lost it. We’ve been trying to meet but it’s hard with so much going on. Other seniors and my friends have helped a lot and even thought we can’t see our team face to face, we are constantly texting or sending encouraging notes to each other. I really hope we can get back on the field. I just know if we do, there will not be any complaining, whining or laziness. We will play harder and practice harder than ever before because now we know through this situation that nothing can hold us down. We have to keep winning and playing together because we might not get on the field again, but if we do it is going to be something special. I know it. One thing I am proud of is, although I may not be the star player, I feel as if I have served my teams well the best I could. My best memories are all of our crazy soccer bus rides. I hope a resolution comes soon, but if it doesn’t, I understand that some of my memories I want to make might have to be sacrificed for the greater good of our nation.”