Coming up Short to the Finish Line

Student Athletes Reflect on Disappointing 2020 Season

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photo courtesy of Katy Kahlich

Sliding into third base, senior outfielder Katy Kahlich gets into better scoring position for the batter. Kahlich has been on the varsity softball team for four years. “It’s just disappointing knowing we have a lot of talent and a lot of us seniors don’t get the senior experience,” Kahlich said. “It’s upsetting just not experiencing not enjoying our final season.”

By Addy Bates, Cedar Park High School

It has been 30 years since the last time the MLB’s season was delayed, 15 years since the last time the NHL didn’t have a Stanley Cup champion and 82 years since the NCAA didn’t hold its annual March Madness tournament.

Even though the professional sports industry has taken a big hit from COVID-19, the virus’s influence on younger athletes has an even greater impact. For some athletes, the spring of their junior year is the prime time for collegiate recruiting. For seniors, this could be the last time they ever participate with a team in their respective sports. Regardless of grade, in a poll taken of 95 high school student athletes via the CPHSNews Instagram, 73 reported they were upset about the way the 2020 season ended, while 22 students didn’t mind the abrupt end. For sports like track, whose season was just beginning, the suspension on UIL sports is a simply a disappointment, according to junior Bennett Woolsey.

“It’s really disappointing to see all of our hard work amount to nothing, especially because this is the most important time for recruiting, but it is better to be safe than sorry,” Woolsey said. “Hopefully colleges will understand and be willing to work with the athletes who have not committed yet.”

Woolsey, who runs both cross country and track, said he’s hopeful that collegiate coaches will take the pandemic into consideration. For athletes like Woolsey, sports symbolizes more than just winning. According to Woolsey, the suspension of the 2020 track season means he won’t see his friends as much and understands this is a tough time for the current seniors.

“Something I’m going to really miss about this season is the senior class of 2020,” Woolsey said. “I made some amazing friends, and I really wanted to finish the season out to see their deserved ending to their high school careers, but I know they will do great things in college and I’m excited to see what their future holds.”

While the suspension for spring sports comes as a disappointment for many athletes, for senior athletes like Kyle Redfern, the cancellation of his state bowling tournament is very upsetting. Redfern has been on the bowling team for three years, with this year being the first time he and the team had advanced to state.

“It’s a big disappointment,” Redfern said. “We had big expectations and had a shot at winning. It’s definitely hard for the seniors to go out without getting a chance at state.”

Regardless of sport, there’s one common thought that is shared among the athletes: it’s the seniors who feel the most disappointment, according to senior softball outfielder Katy Kahlich. Kahlich, who has been on the varsity softball team since freshman year, was less than two months into her senior season when the season was suspended.

“It’s just disappointing knowing we have a lot of talent and a lot of us seniors don’t get the senior experience,” Kahlich said. “It’s upsetting just not experiencing not enjoying our final season.”

Even though some of the current seniors, such as Redfern, who will be bowling for the University of Texas at San Antonio, and Kahlich, who is still reflecting on various offers, plan on playing their respective sports at the collegiate level, not having a fulfilling final high school season still stings, Kahlich said.

“There’s an ending for everything, but sadly ours came short,” Kahlich said.

According to the UIL website, all current school sports and activities will be suspended until May 4 to follow Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order. After May 4, UIL will update its suspension based on Abbott’s orders.

This story was originally published on Wolfpack on April 13, 2020.