One look at the calendar doesn’t tell the story. April 15 is normally Tax Day. Instead, it’s a darker day for those of you who are in the Class of 2020.
The spring, and all that comes with it, should be a fun time of year in high school sports. When I was covering sports in Sumner County, it was the busiest time of year, because with so many events going on, it was common for me to hit up two or sometimes three games in a day.
I know most of you would do nearly anything just to play one more this spring.
What COVID-19 has taken from you is precious. It’s taken time.
Time for the road trips for baseball teams who might play in Panama City or Gulf Shores or some other warm weather locale in the first days of March, when frost-outs are as common as rainouts.
Time for those track and field athletes to cheer their teammates on while waiting for the next event in a county or city meet, wondering how you’ll pick up a tenth of a second.
Time for the tennis players to work on their backhands, whether one- or two-handed, and keeping their double faults to a minimum.
Time for the softball players in the dugout, breaking out chants for their teammates at the plate, fending off a hard rise ball or hanging with the dropper.
And for those basketball players whose state tournament hopes were left hanging in the balance, only to see them fade slowly into the background. The hopes and dreams of many who were so close to the top of the mountain have now disappeared just steps from the summit.
You all deserve better than this sendoff. Annual signings, proms, graduations — they all have been delayed or canceled altogether — rituals of the final year of high school that are held dearly by so many. Hopefully some of you will be able to have those memories still, whether it’s in June or July. And if you, make sure and treasure those moments. You’ve already had to learn the hard way that moments like those are not guaranteed.
To the spring sports athletes, how you ended last season is, unfortunately, how your high school careers will end. For those of you clinging to the chance to finish the basketball season, there truly is no closure.
Whether you were seeking to repeat as a state champion or win it all for the first time, that opportunity has been snatched from you by an invisible foe. Your high school playing days were ended by something far out of your control. It’s okay to be sad because of that.
My wish for you is that you take this and let it drive you to bigger and better things, once we resume the usual activities.
Regardless of the circumstances, you all deserve a proper sendoff. Hopefully there will be a way to do that in due time. I hope for the best for you and hope you will keep your heads held high. Not just the athletes, but all 2020 seniors.
To the Class of 2020, thank you. Today is a tough day, but please let it fuel your tomorrow. That will be your defining legacy.
It would be much better if today were Tax Day. At least then things would be in their normal place.