We are all still “in it” right now - variations of quarantine, with masks, social distancing, and a whole lot of discomfort. There are so many subsections of folks deserving of our prayers, positive vibes, or mental attention, but I can’t help thinking about high school seniors a lot. They are getting robbed!
I am in no way comparing the loss of fun and frivolity or pomp and circumstance to the loss of life or health. I am only saying that high school seniors are likely to forgo many rites of passage that will be hard (or impossible) to make up. What happens to prom, commencement, and (for many) their final sports season and related celebrations?
In a Newsday article: Long Island's High School Athletes coping with the possibility of a canceled season, by Jim Baumbach, some local high school 2020 senior athletes shared their feelings.
Commack senior Shannon Smith, who plays lacrosse, said: “It feels like every day I’m losing hope that we’ll get back out there.”
Emma Ward, a three-sport star at Babylon High School - "I'm trying to be as optimistic as I can be," Ward said. "Yes, I know it's possible there's no season. But I also know everyone else is in the same situation as I am.
So what do we do for our high school seniors and for our other athletes? How much normal can we bring back when we don’t know how long we will be living in this situation?
Many teams are finding creative virtual ways to stay in touch and encourage practice while social distancing. Coaches are sending drill videos, with some requiring players to video themselves and send back. Others are doing daily or weekly challenges to keep their teams active and have a little fun at the same time. TikToks, video chats, and overall virtual interaction have become a new normal today for teams.
Taft Coghill Jr. and Joey LoMonaco write in the Culpeper Star-Exponent article: High school football coaches and players take quarantined workouts online:
Under ordinary circumstances, Eastern View [High School]’s offseason weightlifting program would be in full swing. But the novel coronavirus has tested the creativity of high school coaches across the Fredericksburg area (and the country) when it comes to implementing strength and conditioning regimens. Several have posted workouts to social media, often tempering calisthenics with a dose of comic relief.
Love that! – but it may be little consolation for those in their final season. The last hurrah feels like a whimper.
Much to celebrate
The one advantage high school seniors have is a history of playing their sport. The final season does not define a career. This could be the time to celebrate the longevity of playing a sport, as opposed to just the pinnacle. The last hurrah can still be a hurrah…. but its about the collective time as opposed to the moment. Let’s not minimize or eliminate the celebration of our senior’s athletic accomplishments because the final chapter is left unwritten – let’s just shift the focus a bit.
Celebrations usually occur at the end of the school year or season. What does that look like today? We don’t know. What we do know is that celebrating a final season, EVEN IF IT'S NOT PLAYED, can be one of the ways we keep up with the “normal” and help our high school seniors feel a little less cheated.
Plan now, figure it out later
Parents, coaches, teammates – plan your final season party today! Recognize the players who are moving on, and make it about your meaningful time together without mourning your time missed. Maybe it’s a virtual event, maybe it's individual recognition sent to homes, or maybe (hopefully) we will all be able to get together in the near future. Regardless - plan an event, and celebrate, celebrate, celebrate!
We do know at some point we will return to normal, and try to pick up where we left off, and yes some things will be lost. Let’s not let our high school seniors miss out on everything.
Stay safe! Stay healthy!
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