COVID-19 steals senior athletes’ last chance to play for NC 

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Jenny Loveland

Although his high school running career reached an untimely end, senior Patrick Moran plans to continue doing the sport he loves at Berry College. “[When] school closed, it cut the season basically right when it started around the first race. I’ve coped with it best by staying positive and talking to my teammates even though we aren’t running in season,” Magnet senior and long-distance track runner Patrick Moran said.

Jenny Loveland, Staff

As cases of COVID-19 have increased in number, professional sports came to a screeching halt. Football and baseball games, the Boston Marathon, the Miami Open, track and field events, basketball tournaments and even the Olympics have been canceled or postponed due to the effects of the virus. Although the requirement to end their seasons disappointed athletes and spectators, it remained unavoidable in order to keep them and all others involved safe.

While the school continues online for students in Cobb County, high school sports, similar to their professional counterparts, reached an abrupt end in compliance with social distancing requirements to keep athletes and spectators safe. Senior athletes, however, lost their last spring high school season to the closures.

“This would’ve been my third season pole vaulting. I was making major improvements and had PR’d (broken a personal record) twice before I had the chance to even go to a meet. I guess I’ve just tried to keep telling myself that this is what is necessary to keep everyone safe and my little problem can be sacrificed for the better,” Magnet senior and pole vaulter Tali Porter said.

The closure of school affected all spring sports: soccer, golf, lacrosse, tennis, track and field and baseball, among others. While several seniors plan to play their sport recreationally or in college, their last season with their high school teams remains irreplaceable. For the majority of spring sports, the senior athletes only enjoyed a portion of a regular season before the pandemic cut it short, barely playing one game or match before schools closed and sports stopped.

“The season has been cancelled after one match, and it will be really hard not getting to play my last year or have a final banquet to celebrate my time with my team and coaches. Enjoy every second of the sport you play, even the things that make it difficult and don’t take the things you have for granted,” Magnet senior and golfer Emma Collins said.

Seniors of 2020’s class missed out on more than the last season of their spring sport: prom, possibly their graduation ceremony and several other events centred on celebrating them and their journey through high school became cancelled as the severity of the pandemic grew. Because the cancellation of these events remains unavoidable, seniors continue to try to make the best of their situation.

I definitely wasn’t in the best mood when I got the news[of the season being cancelled], but I made peace with the fact that HS is over and it’s time to move on,” senior tennis player Josh Zignego said.

While their normal high school sports experience ended, these senior athletes hope to use their unique experience to help younger athletes enjoy the opportunities they will have.

To younger athletes, I’d say keep doing your best and working hard. I took my season for granted. I’m now realizing how helpful being on a team is for mental and physical health and kids who can still participate [in high school sports] should really soak it in and enjoy it while they can,” Porter said.