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Coronavirus may abruptly end athletic careers of high school seniors

By AARON JAMES

ajames@lockhaven.com

Those who were able, or fortunate enough, to play high school athletics know looking back on the prime of their lives how much we didn’t appreciate what we had when we had it. We hold those memories closer every day that has passed, and still continue to revel in our laughs with our team at such a young age.

We remember the work we put in and the goals we accomplished. We laugh at the bus rides, we gloat about the achievements and we hold tight the memories of when it came to an end. We remember working every day to improve, and for many, over the course of multiple years, to go out in a glorifying way as a senior.

As we all cope with the unexpected and unpredictable economic and lifestyle changes due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, it has put life into a different perspective for many. As adults, daughters, sons, employees, co-workers, friends and parents, we have viewed these past two weeks as extremely impactful.

For some the bounce back will be easy, for some it will be extremely hard and dire. While most of us probably won’t miss out on any life altering opportunities or lose golden memories, high school athletes across the country are losing an important piece of their lives.

I’m not saying high school athletics supersede the financial crisis many families are experiencing, but some futures will be altered from this global pandemic.

As a community, it’s been more than incredible to watch the way businesses, neighbors, friends, teachers, families and so forth have helped and comfort those in need over the course of the past few weeks. Heads of households are being checked on constantly, parents in homes are lifted up by words of encouragement.

But flying under the radar of potentially life altering impacts are high school seniors and athletes.

The PIAA did what was necessary when they delayed the PIAA winter championships and Class AA swimming and diving championships. And while no official statement has been made on the state of spring sports, logic may lead you to the future decision.

By this time, baseball and softball would be in full swing, track and field meets would be filled with commotion and athletes would be performing to reach that common goal the coaching staff has been trying to drive into their mindsets.

Athletic programs aren’t built in a day, and certainly don’t magically turnover to the next wave of athletes as students graduate. Coaching staffs and these athletes work tirelessly to not only enjoy their time playing something they love, but to make a mark on their school and community, and for some, use it as a ticket to college.

There are baseball programs around the country who had the nucleus needed this year to have the best season in school history and compete for a district or state title. Softball programs have seniors who would’ve had the opportunity to sketch their name into school history recording hits or strikeouts this season.

Track and field athletes have worked on the smallest parts of their form for their chance to wear that medal from the PIAA championship meet this season and may not be able to. Kids were ready to compete to finish convincing a coach they were worth the time and scholarship. And sadly that could be no more.

As we continue to lift each other up in the community daily, let’s remember to lift up the kids that may not be thought of when we think about the impact from this pandemic. Let’s not forget our golden days, and every ounce of enjoyment we still remember when we reminisce on our high school sports experiences.

Let’s help these young athletes still remain motivated without their athletic schedule. If we can, let’s help the athletes that were hoping to earn their scholarship this season, continue to look for alternatives in the interim. Let’s make sure they know we appreciate the time they dedicated to something even if they may not get to see it come to fruition.

While our passions are still inside of us, although priorities have changed, we all wish we had the burning fire we had when we were younger again. The love of a team and passion of a sport for millions of kids across the country was torn away. Some will never get the opportunity to write their final chapter.

As a community, we owe the future the appreciation and acknowledgment of their work, even though we may not see the results of it for senior athletes in what would be their final season.

Aaron James is a sports writer for the Lock Haven Express. He can be reached by email at ajames@lockhaven.com

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