Senior athletes coping after lost spring season

The coronavirus pandemic has brought many aspects of life to a screeching halt.

While every single one of us can probably name several areas of life that’s been impacted, I personally feel heartbroken for the class of 2020, especially in a job where I get to know so many individuals from the area high schools through sporting events.

I tried to put myself in their shoes, but there’s simply no memory that compares.

I thought back to my senior year of high school and how well over half of my baseball season was wrecked by weather. Still, I did get to play in a handful of games, which isn’t an option after the WIAA cancelled the spring season on April 21.

“Hearing that I won’t be able to finish out my senior year is really devastating. I wanted the opportunity to compete a couple more times,” said Oconto Falls senior Kari Albrecht. “When everyone says, “enjoy it while it lasts cause you never know when your last opportunity will be” really hits hard right now because I truly did not think basketball would be my last opportunity to compete.”

Albrecht made it to the state track and field meet as a junior and was hoping to make it back this spring. Another state qualifier — Shawano senior Michael Klement — offered up a similar reaction.

“When the WIAA officially said that the season was not going to happen, I was heartbroken. I was ready to come into senior year and tear it up on the track,” said Klement.

Baseball and softball athletes have some opportunities throughout the summer months to play the sports, but a good majority — if not all of them — would love to represent their high school spring teams.

The other spring sports (track and field, girls soccer, boys tennis and boys golf) chances to play competitively over the summer is limited.

With that in mind, a particular part of the WIAA’s news release announcing the cancellation of the spring season peaked the interests of athletes. While cancelling the season, the WIAA — which I absolutely think should be commended for exhausting all possible options to get a season in — also extended unrestricted summertime coaching contact for spring sports.

So what exactly does that mean?

“This action will permit school teams that include the current year’s seniors to assemble and conduct practices and competitions for up to 30 days — provided restrictions on assembling in groups are removed — until the start of a student-athlete’s fall sport season or until the start of school for students not participating in a fall school sport,” the WIAA’s executive staff wrote in an article.

“All spring sports competitions scheduled during the expansion of unrestricted summertime provisions will require approval from district administrators of all competing schools.”

So, while there is no chance for a spring season, there is an opportunity for spring teams to assemble and participate in competitions beginning on July 1.

While a lot of hurdles need to be crossed and COVID-19 restrictions eased before thinking about putting something like this together, just the thought of being able to compete one last time is encouraging for high school athletes.

“I am hoping that some competitions can get put together for this summer because although it may not be as serious as a normal season with state at the end, it will still be a lot of fun to just be able to compete with my teammates one last time and compete against friends from other schools that I met in track and cross country throughout the years,” said Wittenberg-Birnamwood senior Cole Schaier, who competes in track and field in the spring.

“If I get the opportunity to run the hurdles one more time I think that would be awesome,” said Albrecht. “It would give all us seniors closure and a last hurrah.”

I plan to dive deeper into the summertime provisions as that time approaches, but if you’d like to read about them now, visit www.wiaawi.org/News/News-Article/ArtMID/5378/ArticleID/21567/Executive-S....

Morgan Rode is the sports editor for the Shawano Leader. Readers can contact him at sports@newmedia-wi.com.

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