South Whidbey High School athletes are not happy about the disruption of the spring sports season, but they understand the necessity of the break.
“It almost doesn’t feel real,” junior softball player Melody Wilkie said. “It’s really important we keep our community healthy and take the actions needed to do so.”
“I’m disappointed that the break interrupts school and spring sports,” senior softball player Ari Marshall said, “but I understand its for the best.”
Senior softball player Kayla Knauer said, “When I first heard about the break, I was shocked and upset that everything was closing so fast and that spring sports couldn’t continue for such a long period of time.”
Senior track team member Kole Nelson said the break was necessary so everyone could “take a step back and see what’s going on.”
Nelson’s class- and teammate Michael Harwell said after answers to concerns about classes, scholarships and graduation were provided, his “feelings have calmed.”
“I understand that school is not the best place for youth to be right now, and that we need to be simply doing our part to serve the community in vital services and health and safety,” he said.
Though necessary, the break robs athletes of the opportunity to reach goals they have worked hard to achieve, some said.
“It’s definitely a bummer because I was looking forward to having a successful season,” junior track team member Cody Eager said.
Sophomore softball player Chanel Sterba added, “I think that we would have done really well this year with the incoming freshmen and new players.”
Harwell, a distance runner, said the break may actually help him in his training.
“All I need are my running shoes and a space to run,” he said. “Also, without in-classroom school and little to no online coursework yet, I have more opportunity to rest and maintain a more open schedule to make sure I do all of what coach (Doug) Fulton would call the ‘little things,’ that being diet, sleep and anything else that is done outside of practice.”
Several of the underclassmen felt for the seniors.
“I think it’s very sad…that we don’t get to play, especially for the seniors,” Sterba said.
Wilkie added, “I’m really sad for the seniors in all the sports honestly.”
The impact of the suspension “will not be beneficial in any way,” according to Marshall.
Not playing for six weeks is a “big deal,” Wilkie said. “That’s six weeks that typically would make us all stronger and…you typically start to see your hard work pay off and…you really see your team start to come together and grow.”
Nelson said the break will affect everyone differently, some a great deal and others not at all.
For him, he will continue to run, eat smart, work on his endurance and avoid activities that could cause injuries.
Eager said, “I think this break will show who are disciplined to practice on their own.”
He will do his best to stay in shape by “practicing and lifting weights every day like I normally do.”
Harwell added, “I would say that the best way to minimize the effect of the layoff athletically is to continue training as if it isn’t a layoff. That means train daily and use the opportunities presented by the layoff to better yourself.”
Knauer said, “Individually, I know it’s up to me to get out on the fields and practice during this time. As a team it will be hard to find times to gather everyone at once to practice. I’m hoping that if everyone is willing to come out and play during this break, we can get some practice time in before the season starts up again.”
She also said she will try to stay active: “Whether it’s playing volleyball, basketball, softball or just going for a run, I want to make sure my body is prepared for when we come back to the fields in late April.”
Sterba will work out at home and “keep pitching and hitting to keep up my strength and keep progressing.”
Wilkie said, “Unfortunately, there is not much we can do right now except throwing a ball around in the backyard and just hope that the the rest of the team will do the same.
“It’s important to me that we as a team do our best at minimizing the spread in our community and keep our families healthy. We can still play catch with our family and do whatever we can at this point.”
Sterba noted that the break will affect more than physical conditioning. Much of the team does not hang out together off the field, she said; therefore, the players will miss opportunities to bond.
Wilkie said, “It’s really heartbreaking, and a lot of the kids in all these sports have dedicated so much hard work. It really is unfortunate, but there’s nothing we can do except hope that maybe we see some kind of season and get the chance to step on the field again; that’s all I can really hope for.”