Senior athletes reflect as season slips away

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Karleigh Daniels

While slim hope remains for some semblance of a high school spring sports season, some local seniors are reflecting on what might have been. 

The Illinois High School Association posted on its website last week that although schools remain closed through April 30 due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is hopeful that a spring sports season can still take place. 

“We remain optimistic that a May 1 return to school, followed by a to-be- determined acclimatization practice period, can still result in a truncated spring season that culminates with IHSA state series tournaments and the crowning of state champions in June,” the IHSA stated. 

The IHSA added that while its board of directors has been “highly supportive” of creating an exemption to the season limitation bylaw to allow spring sports to play into late June, competing into or beyond July is not being considered at this time.

“We are also realistic in recognizing that any further school postponements, or the cessation of physical school attendance for the remainder of the year, will almost certainly result in the cancellation of all remaining IHSA sports and activities this school year,” the IHSA said.

Waterloo High School Athletic Director Mitch North recently created a blog site titled “Bulldogs’ Perspectives” that allows WHS athletes to express their feelings about this uncertain time.

“My thought on this was to encourage them to write and reflect for academic reasons and hopefully it will be a therapeutic exercise for them as well,” North said.

The project has already resulted in some emotional responses.

“To put it bluntly: all of this kinda sucks,” WHS senior trackster Rachel Patterson wrote. “I understand that what we are going through right now as a country is much bigger than sports, yet it is still devastating to have something that you have worked for stripped away from you. Luckily, running is not cancelled and I have been able to relieve some stress by lacing up my shoes and going for a run.”

WHS senior softball player Heather Albers agreed.

“This is all truly heartbreaking, but I know that we will come out of this stronger than we were before,” she wrote.

WHS senior soccer standout Paige Kinzinger shared similar sentiments.

“I have waited four years for this moment, for this season. Nothing could have prepared us for what we will potentially be missing out on,” she wrote. “We may have already played our last high school game ever and we had no idea.”

Kinzinger offered advice to underclassmen.

“Slow down. Be grateful for every moment. Don’t take anything for granted. Play every game like it’s your last. Enjoy life. Stay positive. Hold others and yourself accountable,” she said. “Take criticism and make yourself better. Work hard, and even harder when no one is watching. Never give up. Fall more in love with the game each day. Appreciate your teachers, coaches and especially your teammates. Stop complaining and stop wishing the years away, because before you know it, it will all be over and suddenly, you’d do anything to have it back!”

Kinzinger’s soccer teammate, WHS senior Karleigh Daniels, expressed appreciation for all that the state and school has done to make sure all are staying safe during this time.

“With that being said, it would be amazing to finish my senior year the ‘normal’ way,” she wrote. “It would be amazing to have a senior night, walk the halls with my best friends one more time, put on my cleats with my favorite people one last time, or even just hear my name announced before a game again. If my last game for WHS was last season, I wish all of the younger girls well next season. You guys have pushed me to be the best player that I could be, and I am so thankful for all of you. Have fun and cherish every minute!”

Read more blog entries by clicking here.

For pictures from the Republic-Times Spring Sports Preview, click here.

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