A canceled sports season hits hard for high school seniors
The spring sports season typically gives high school seniors one last chance to reach personal goals, prove themselves on the field of play, and bond with their teammates. Unfortunately, graduating athletes in the class of 2020 will get no such opportunity.
Due to the coronavirus, schools are closed for the rest of the school year, and the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association has canceled the spring season entirely.
For athletes in Wareham High School’s graduating class, that means no senior night games, no final shots at breaking records, and no formal opportunity to say goodbye to teammates during team-building activities and long bus rides to and from competitions.
Izak Salim said he had improved his times throughout the winter track season, and his personal best was just five seconds off of the school’s 800 meter record of 2:01. Although the record seemed to be within his reach, he won’t get the chance to break it before he graduates.
Seniors on the baseball team said they finished last year as a top-three team in their conference. This year, they were gunning for the top spot, and had been working on their batting as early as September.
Seniors Khai Delgado and Bryan Gallagher said that the team was shaping up well as the season approached. Although they have some young talent as well, the canceled season is a big loss for the team with five seniors, three of whom are pitchers.
Tennis player Josh Flaherty said that his team was in good standing to make the playoffs as well, and softball captain Jasmine Black said that her team was looking to rebound from a rough season last year.
While records and playoffs are enticing, many of the senior athletes said the things they would miss most involved their school and teammates.
Salim said that the thing he would miss most about running track is “the feeling of a family” and that he was disappointed about “not having a proper goodbye” with his team.
He added that he and fellow senior Natalia Moulding have been on the team since their eighth grade year. Although he was nervous when he started, he said that coaches and upperclassmen helped him get to where he is today.
Moulding and Salim said that they were able to pay it forward to younger athletes on their team as they got older. Moulding will run for Bentley College, and Salim will be on the track team at The College of St. Rose. Both said they plan on returning to help run practices at Wareham High School in the future.
Black said that as someone who is very involved with her school “it wasn’t easy hearing that we weren’t coming back” because of the pandemic.
She said she will be going to Bridgewater State University after graduating. She added that she wasn’t originally planning on playing softball there, but after losing out on her final season, she is considering trying out, or at least playing on a club team.
Black said she had bonded with her teammates over the years, and has been playing with some of them since elementary school. She added that missing out on her senior night game is a big loss for her personally.
Flaherty said that he will miss “the morale of the team,” and that as a relatively light-hearted sport, the tennis team often had a lot of fun during practice.
All of the athletes interviewed by Wareham Week agreed that playing for the Vikings was a way to positively represent their school and community.
“We get underestimated for what we can really do, just based on the reputation we get,” Black said.
But for many, sports provide an opportunity to address a bad reputation.
Delgado pointed out that Wareham teams have routinely been awarded for their sportsmanship.
He added that more often than not, sportsmanship awards are given to underperforming teams, but last year Wareham baseball players accomplished the rare feat of bringing home a sportsmanship award, while still making it to the playoffs.
“I just think that it’s an attest to what the athletes bring to the school, and how much respect we should be given that we don’t receive, and I think that that’s a big thing that the younger kids need to carry on,” Delgado said.
When asked about what contributes to Wareham’s exceptional sportsmanship, players gave the nod to their coaches.
“It’s more than just about the sport,” Gallagher said “a lot of the coaches try to better you as a person.”
Overall, the athletes said that despite its negative reputation, Wareham has a great community, and people in town are very supportive of the high school teams.
“We show love to anyone who’s willing to better themselves and better the community around them,” Salim said.
According to his teammate Moulding “it’s just one big Wareham.”