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Over the last five days, the sports world has been rocked by the global COVID-19 pandemic — and high school athletics is no exception.
Last Friday, the UIL issued a two-week suspension on all competitions due to the coronavirus outbreak. Then on Sunday, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention urged a nationwide halt on all gatherings of 50 or more people for the next eight weeks.
Many school districts extended their spring breaks into this week or even beyond as a result.
But now, coaches and athletes involved in spring sports are facing the realization they may not get to play again this season.
“This is unprecedented, and I’ve never seen anything like it,” Guyer softball coach Keith Medford said. “There has been nothing remotely close to this. I’m thankful for our leadership and the lead they’ve taken. I don’t feel like we’ve knee-jerked at all. I feel like we’re doing the right thing taking this a week at a time.”
The uncertainty surrounding the remainder of the 2019-20 school year has taken a toll on everyone involved in athletics. But for seniors, it has been especially difficult.
Many coaches have been players before and know how much athletics means to their current crop of athletes.
Ryan girls soccer coach Kendall Pryor had her soccer scholarship to North Texas sewn up by the time she started her senior season at Carrollton Creekview in 2006. But rather than looking ahead to what ultimately became a Hall of Fame career with the Mean Green, Pryor wanted to enjoy everything about her final high school run while seeing what she and her teammates could make happen next.
Now, 14 years later, Pryor is experiencing exactly what it’s like to not have a senior season as she tries to maintain a positive outlook for her players at Ryan.
The Lady Raiders were set to play Lake Dallas on Tuesday in what would have been their final District 8-5A game. From there, they would have been playoff-bound as the No. 4 seed.
“My girls still think they have a chance to come back and play again,” Pryor said. “But you just don’t know. A lot of these girls will go on to play in college, but others won’t. So the last game we played before the break — that could have been their last game.”
At Guyer, girls soccer coach Mandy Hall has been doing everything in her power to keep morale up.
Because organized workouts and practices are suspended, Hall has sent her team exercises they can complete at home. Hall said she has exchanged texts and phone calls with some students, but not being able to see her team in person has been difficult.
“It’s an outlet for so many,” Hall said. “It’s just their way to feel in control and who they are. The team aspect of it — you have 20 other girls who know what you’re feeling and what you’re walking through. You just feel known on a team. You have people that have your back and have your interests in mind and care about you. When it’s gone, it feels isolated and you don’t really know what to do.”
Guyer (12-3-4) had already locked up its playoff spot in District 5-6A and had two games remaining before the playoffs started.
But for Medford and the softball team, their season was just beginning. The Lady Wildcats are 16-3-1 and 2-0 in District 5-6A and have no idea if they’ll be able to finish what was shaping up to be a great year.
For Ryan’s softball team, the Lady Raiders (14-9, 0-1 District 8-5A) have five seniors they are hoping to send off on the right note — Maryland signee Abby Buettner, Savanah Phillips, Katy Munoz, Harper Hughes and Abby Mooney.
The question is if they’ll get the opportunity to do so.
“For 95% of kids, this is the end of their playing career,” Ryan softball coach Matt Buettner said. “I just hope it’s not over yet.”