Senior athletes face a myriad of uncertainty over COVID-19

Senior Spencer fouls one off in the batting cage. Connor Beatty is on deck. Photo by Bob Kirkpatrick

The ball fields at Woodinville High School were abuzz with excitement as the baseball and softball teams had high expectations for the 2020 season.

The Lady Falcons had one goal in mind: return to the State Tournament. Woodinville was last there in 2017, bringing home championship hardware.

The Falcons' baseball team was returning a veteran squad and looking to get back in the playoffs after not making it the past couple of years.

But the plans for both teams came to a screeching halt before either was able to play a regular-season game after word came down to indefinitely postpone state-wide competition due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.

The news sent shock waves through players and coaches alike.

“I think our kids are dealing with this as well as can be expected,” Coach Alan Dillman said. “Most of the guys on the team are baseball-only guys so to have your season postponed before you have a chance to play a game is tough. Like everyone the uncertainty of not knowing when things will be back to normal is hard.”

Fast-pitch Coach Dani Weir echoed Dillman’s thoughts.

Senior athletes face a myriad of uncertainty over COVID-19

Charlotte Grover shags a pop-up. Jada Alcantara backs her up.

“The kids were certainly devastated but are hopeful for a return late April,” Weir said. “It all happened so fast that I know we're all still processing it. We're not able to meet or practice so we are focusing on what we can do individually to make sure we are prepared to get right into games.”

The announcement of the postponement placed players on both squads in limbo but was especially unnerving to senior athletes who must process the thoughts of not being able to dawn their school uniform one last time while contemplating what the immediate future may hold for them.

“It was a shot to the heart, for sure,” senior Trent Boyd said. “It hasn’t turned into something that eats at me all the time, but it’s still in the back of my head. Fortunately, I have 14 other guys to talk to about it. When we get together, it’s always abundant with goofy antics that can distract you from anything that would usually make you feel down or upset.”

“It has been really tough not being able to play with the guys that I grew up with and pretty heartbreaking to have to stop so abruptly in our senior year”— Senior Justice Dillman

Senior Charlotte Grover took the new especially hard.

“I was really upset finding out that our season was postponed,” Grover said. “I don’t think I could find the right words to say how much this team means to me and how much softball means to me.”

Teammate Jada Alcantara said the emotions she felt when she heard the season would be postponed have been, "all over the place.”

“It was tough to get through a team scrimmage without having to stop and shed some tears when we seniors would make a play or hit a ball over the fence,” Alcantara said. “Overall, it’s been pure sadness and frustration for me and my other seniors and the entire team as well.”

First-year senior Hannah Jensen didn’t take the news well at all.

“It took a lot of convincing from Jada (Alcantara), but I decided to try out this year. I was having fun my first couple weeks of practice and was excited and nervous for games, but now I may not even be able to play a game which sucks to think about,” Jensen said. “I was just getting to know all the girls on the team and wishing I could have the whole season to get to know all of them better.”

Complicating matters is the uncertainty of when the season may resume.

“It is hard not knowing what is going to happen with the season because it has not been canceled so I have this hope that it will continue but this fear that it won’t,” Grover said. “I’m scared that everything I did last year will be the last time I was able to do those things. I’m scared I won’t have the chance to take the field again and do all the things I thought I was going to be able to do this year.”

If play were to resume, it wouldn’t happen until after the state-mandated school closure date of Friday, April 24. If school is back in session the following Monday, Washington Interscholastic Athletic Activity Executive Director Mick Hoffman said in a video posted on the WIAA website March 17, the possibility of holding the State Tournament still exists.

That would give little time for teams to prepare for as the regular baseball season was scheduled to end May 1. The District Tournament is scheduled for May 7-17. The State Tournament is to take place on May 23-30. The softball regular season was scheduled to end on May 11. The District Tournament is May 15-22. State play is scheduled for May 29 and 30.

“I have seen the video and have heard talk about the state tournament, and it makes me very excited. Although we haven’t been together as a team, we’ve all been going out and working hard to stay in the game during this hard time,” Alcantara said. “It would definitely be a tough adjustment coming right back into the swing of things, but I know my girls are ready and prepared for whatever is thrown our way. Our coaches have been very supportive and encouraged us to keep working hard and that for me has been a big motivator.”

Glover wasn’t as optimistic but would relish the chance to compete in postseason play.

“I think if we had the opportunity to play in a tournament when we came back it would be difficult having been away from each other for so long and having to come back and start playing,” Grover said. “It is hard because we will have lost our momentum and we haven’t had a chance to play together so we don’t really know how we will work together. But it is definitely something that we are ready for and hoping for. Everyone is doing their best to stay in shape and to keep we all have the hope that the season will start when we come back.”

If the season does not resume, all say it would be difficult knowing they weren’t able to play in a Falcon uniform their senior season.

“It would be absolutely is hard — I have many great memories wearing green and blue —I’ve been feeling very thankful for what I’ve already experienced.” — Trent Boyd.

“I’ve played with some of my teammates for a long time and it’s been difficult thinking that I could not have the chance to play with them again and that we wouldn’t have gotten the whole season together that we have worked so hard for.” — Charlotte Grover.

Another unsettling issue to deal with for the senior athletes is aspirations of playing at the next level, as their final high school season is one of the last times many can showcase their talents.

“Hopefully they still have the opportunity to play this summer,” Weir said. “Their select teams and summer tournaments are where they will get the most exposure to college coaches.”

Fortunately for Grover, Boyd, Dillman and Jensen, they have already inked with collegiate programs.

Grover has signed a Letter of Intent to play D1 Softball for Robert Morris University. Boyd received a scholarship to play ball for three years at Bard College in New York and then will transfer to Columbia University to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering. Dillman has been going through workouts with Big Bend College in Moses Lake. Jensen will be playing soccer at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Mont.

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