Area athletic directors and coaches have responded to the pandemic with grace and insights for their beloved schools.
“I think the consensus is that our student-athletes and coaches are anxious/antsy without being selfish or blind to what’s going on in our world right now,” Gallagher Driscoll, Bishop Ludden Jr./Sr. High School’s AD, wrote in an email. “They all want a chance to compete. I feel bad for some of our seniors because this could really be the last time they play organized sports in their lives.
“It’s always been a rule of thumb here at Bishop Ludden that our students’ personal welfare, well-being, and safety are the Number 1 concern.”
Buddy Wleklinski, the AD at Christian Brothers Academy, wrote:
“I find myself going back to March 7th, the day that our boys’ and girls’ basketball teams, through their hard work and perseverance, won Sectional Championships. The exhilaration these young men and women felt radiated from each and every one of them. Their achievement qualified them to compete for a state championship, a dream that all young athletes aspire to.
“No one would have imagined that later that week everything would come to a screeching halt. By 3:00 on Thursday the state tournament had been canceled — all that we had worked for abruptly came to an end. Our seniors had played their last high school game. When we informed our teams of the situation they were understandably disappointed and frustrated. Logically, our players accepted what had happened, but the emotional aspect was more difficult to handle.
“For our senior spring sport athletes, the loss is even greater. This was to be the culmination of four years of hard work and a final opportunity to play side by side with their friends, some of whom they have competed with or against since grade school. Although some will go on to play sports in college, the feeling you get from competing on a high school team with your friends, being cheered on by parents and classmates that know and care about you, cannot be replicated.
“The fact that this group of senior athletes won’t experience that final feeling is heartbreaking. While the winter season was only abbreviated, the spring season was not even able to get started. Over 40 percent of our senior class was planning to participate on a spring sports team. For some of those students, the only sport that they participated in was in the spring. Many of them had been preparing for this season right from the time the last season ended.
“We, as coaches, need to help our players through times like this. Often during basketball season, we implored our players not to concern themselves with aspects of the game that were beyond their control but rather concentrate and focus on the ones that they could. This is certainly a time where we can use that advice as a life lesson.
“The situation we are in is beyond our control, but how we deal with it is all up to us. The closing of school for the last several weeks has taken its toll on all of our students. While students of all ages are feeling the emptiness of their social hub being eliminated, it impacts our seniors on even a more personal level. Senior year is the crowning jewel of their high school years, where the class has bonded together and anticipated events such as the Senior Ball, Founder’s Day, and our Graduation Weekend.
“We encourage our young people to focus on staying positive through these unique times. Enjoy and make the most out of the time we get to spend with our families. With the technology available, stay in touch with your friends and help each other through this experience. Support and comply with the decisions being made by politicians and administrators and trust that they are made in our best interests. Our coaches offered their words of encouragement to our students in the following video:
“As we all work through this, I am confident that our students will rebound. They are resilient and have shown their creativity and a quest to keep the class together. Here is an account set up by two of our seniors to highlight their classmates:
“I think we all can appreciate how difficult these times are for our young people. However, these students/athletes have countless memories still to be made, challenges to face and overcome, and many exciting opportunities to look forward to. Hopefully, with our help, instead of lamenting about what was lost in the past, they can focus on preparing for the bright future that lies ahead.”