by SYDNEY CLIFFORD - While athletes around the county are all a part of their respective school teams, they are united in their common uncertainties for their sports seasons.
WESTFIELD, Ind. (April 4, 2020) - During the week of March 9, I was starting a great week. We just had the Sadie Hawkins Dance the weekend before. I lettered for the first time in swim, making it my third sport I had lettered. I had just been moved up a training group for track because of how fit I was becoming. My coach even told me I would be able to compete the next week for my first indoor track meet since freshman year.
The pieces to an incredible end to my senior year were falling into place.
But in the backdrop of all these loomed a large shadow on this future. Cases of COVID-19 were on the rise all around the US. A student in Avon tested positive. Professional athletics were being canceled, along with NCAA winter and spring sports. Universities were being shut down for the rest of the semester, and soon Westfield would announce that it would be shutting down until after spring break.
I felt like the track season I had envisioned ahead of me was starting to be pulled away from me. But I still had hope.
The next week, Governor Holcomb announced schools would be closed until May 1.
My heart shattered.
I am a person who likes control and certainty. This felt like my living hell. I wanted to be guaranteed that after school closure was over, I would be able to compete one last time with my teammates, my sisters.
Now, I don’t even know if I am able to say goodbye.
I knew that I wasn’t alone in what I was feeling. So I decided that I wasn’t going to let myself or other athletes be drowned out. I wanted to make sure that we were heard. Uniquely, I had a platform with the Lantern to do something about it, so here we are.
I created a Google form and sent it to as many people as I could. First, the Westfield cross country, distance track, and swim teams. Then, friends in other Westfield sports. Then, friends from Guerin and Noblesville. Finally, on my Instagram and Snap story.
Soon enough, 77 people filled out my form, all aching to be heard, at least by someone who cared enough to hear. Some completely lost their seasons. Others didn’t know what the future holds, whether that be practice or future competitions. Many shared feelings of disappointment, sadness, anger, and shock.
Most of my results came from Westfield. But I was able to get nine responses from Guerin Catholic and two from Noblesville. I made sure to showcase the responses from Guerin and Noblesville, but I had to randomly select the responses from Westfield because I wanted to give everyone an equal shot at being heard.
Here are some responses to three questions from my survey. While I was unable to include every response, I read through every response and I felt every word.
Athletes,- you are not alone. We are all united in this moment, and we are one team.
No matter what, we will come out of this as more resilient and determined athletes.
“I got the feeling it would get to the United States and get bad, but I didn’t expect it to get this far to where school and athletics are being canceled, businesses are being closed, and so many people are out of work. It is still kind of hard for me to process now.” - Anna Hazelrigg (12), Noblesville, Cross Country and Track & Field
“I knew it would come to America I just didn’t think we would go on lockdown because of it.” - Thadeus O’Neill (10), Westfield, Football and Wrestling
“I didn’t think it would ever become this big of a thing. I still remember joking about it back then, and now it’s right here.” - Colin Nixon (11), Westfield, Golf
“I never would have thought that my season may be over just as quick as it had begun. I didn’t even know what coronavirus was until everyone was like, ‘Oh Italy is really hurting, let’s quarantine.’ ” - Lexi Martin (12), Westfield, Softball and Bowling
“This virus got way bigger than I could’ve ever imagined. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that it took away my senior season and I’ll never play another game in a Westfield uniform again.”-Trey Anderson (12), Westfield, Baseball.
“It was going around as a joke at first, so I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. But now that school is canceled and the swim season was put on hold, it’s starting to scare me.” - Isabella Amaya (9), Westfield, Swim & Dive
“I pretty much dismissed it and thought of it like the ebola outbreak that was real but never touched our country. I never would have thought the cancellation of everything would happen.” - Ava Friedman (10), Westfield, Swim & Dive
“I thought the virus was going to be something that would blow over in a few weeks. I never thought it would get to this point. It’s disappointing to say the least, seeing our senior season cut short like this.”-Jake Weikel (12), Westfield, Lacrosse
l“I honestly didn’t even know it was really a thing till it got big in Italy and just started in the US. I just thought it was some stupid flu.” - Seth Nanna (9), Westfield, Football and Baseball
“I remember almost joking about it with Trey in government class 2nd trimester. We thought it would never come here. Then it got to California and we thought it’ll never come to Indiana. But now, here we are. It sucks because our senior season is over before it even started. Some of those kids I’ve been playing with since 5th grade.” -Mason Cox (12), Westfield, Baseball
“I was upset about my season being canceled because it would be the last opportunity to play lacrosse with my friends and to play for Coach Troy.”-Shannon Bola (12), Westfield, Lacrosse
“At first, I didn't take this virus seriously. I believed that a lot of people were just overreacting and that virus will be over soon. I never would have thought that something like this would happen. It’s devastating to everyone and especially the seniors, who worked very hard to reach this point and they won’t even get to experience their senior season like everyone else has. It’s heartbreaking to know that my senior year was cut short and they will never get this opportunity back. I won’t be able to finish my senior year of lacrosse, which was the most important year for me. However, I have hope that everything will work out and that we are all in this together.”-Landon Lawrence (12), Westfield, Lacrosse
“I am very disappointed, sad, and frustrated. Honestly, this sucks especially for track because year-round we train for this sport and then to get it canceled. My senior year basically thrown out the window affects me, and everyone around me.” - Noah McNeany (12), Guerin Catholic, Cross Country and Track & Field
“It has affected my athletic season by pretty much canceling the whole season. I think that the measures taken were adequate for the situation, but that doesn’t take away from the sadness of not having a ‘real’ season.” - Tyler Backlund (11), Guerin Catholic, Cross Country and Track & Field
“I think we must practice social distancing in order to control the issue. Social distancing should be a mandatory path taken for all people living in Indiana.” - Emily DeCocq (12), Noblesville, Swim & Dive
“The virus has canceled my entire senior lacrosse season. This was the most devastating news to hear at our last practice on Thursday, March 12. My fellow seniors and I started crying after that practice realizing it could be the last time we step on the Westfield High School turf. All the work we put in, the miles we ran, and the stick skills we were learning would be the last things we did. We kept hope that we would come back to school in time for sectionals and the state tournament, but as time goes on, I’m getting less hopeful. The US’s strategy of flattening the curve just means that this is going to last a long time. In my mind, that tells me that we probably won’t be playing lacrosse anytime soon. That is when the true devastation hit. I have played lacrosse for seven years now and I cannot explain in words how much this sport means to me. Not only that, but the people I met are irreplaceable. There were so many wonderful people I was looking forward to playing with and getting to know better this year. The real tragedy is the fact that I’m graduating and I may never play with them again. We were going to win State again this year. I have no doubt in my mind and to have that taken away from me truly hurts. We have put too much work into this sport for it to just be stopped in its tracks. The measures of canceling everything is a true example of a necessary evil. I do believe what is happening is the best course of action, but that doesn’t mean that it hurts any less.” - Ashley Black (12), Westfield, Basketball and Lacrosse
“My whole season I worked so hard for one final meet at the end of the season so it would finally all pay off, but COVID-19 canceled that meet. I don’t get to see my work pay off until July now. I think it is reasonable to cancel everything, but I just wish it wasn’t necessary.” - Annie Spaletto (9), Westfield, Swim & Dive
“I think the government has taken the measures necessary to prevent the rapid spread of COVID-19, but I don’t think all individuals are taking the issue seriously. It has been concerning to still see large groups of people gathering. Not everyone realizes that it is everyone’s responsibility to stop this illness from spreading.” - Joe Barnett (12), Westfield, Cross Country and Track & Field
“The indoor season for track was canceled, so now I'll never get an opportunity to throw shot on an indoor ring. It's been really hard for us participants in the field events, we already go pretty unnoticed, and being able to throw indoor was an opportunity for some of us to be seen by college recruiters, and now that opportunity is gone. We can't work out and do drill work with our teammates either which is really hard because of the bond we all have with one another. I just hope my senior season is completely canceled.” - Claire Richter (12), Westfield, Track & Field
“I kind of didn’t know what to expect and blew it off because it wasn’t that big here in Indiana yet. When I found out this quarantine was taking away our senior rugby season, I was heartbroken and will miss my brothers..”-Dane Wheeler (12), Westfield, Rugby
“It hasn't changed my view on sports, but rather it has emphasized the importance of them. Sports are a way for a group of kids with similar interests to come together and play the sport. Now that you can't play that sport, the kids are getting really sad. I know a lot of my friends look forward to playing with their peers after school. Sports seem like the fun part of school to them, and when you take away the fun you're just left with school. It's senior year, most of us don't care about our classes as much as we used to.” - Aaron Banks, (12), Guerin Catholic, Cycling and Unified Track & Field
“It has made me realize how much things can change in an instant and how you can’t take your sport(s) for granted because pretty soon they could be gone. It made me realize the importance of showing up every day and giving everything you have because pretty soon, you could lose it all.” - Austin Callahan (11), Guerin Catholic, Cross Country and Track & Field
“This pandemic has made me so much more appreciative of lacrosse. Two weeks ago I was complaining about practice and sometimes even crying, but now I would give anything to be back on the field.” - Ella Murphy (12), Guerin Catholic, Lacrosse and Track & Field
“This hasn't really changed the view on my sport because you don’t need anything to run. Other than some clothes and shoes, running can be done with no extra needed equipment or facilities. Two of my teammates and I have continued our workouts together in order to stay in shape and to continue to do the thing we love, running!” - David Mannella (12), Westfield, Cross Country and Track & Field
“I think it has helped me see just how valuable a sport truly is. I have plenty of friends who were preparing for the final swim meet of their high school careers, and a few days before the meet, it was canceled. Sometimes people just blow off all their games, meets, matches, or whatever, but some people have worked so hard their whole life for one of those, and it’s heartbreaking to see the way their careers had to end.” - Gavin Yoakum (11), Westfield, Swim & Dive
“It makes me realize I took it for granted a little bit and I’m upset I didn’t get that last season with my brothers. I played prop and lock, and I’ll miss lifting my teammates up.”-Owen Ogle (12), Westfield, Rugby
“In October, I tore my ACL. I was working all of the fall and all through winter just to have the possibility of playing. Two days before my season, I was finally cleared. I had gained a new respect for my sport and viewed the game differently, and I realized how lucky I was to even be practicing. Then, within a week, schools are shutting down and collegiate levels are canceling their seasons all- together. I have not been able to go a day without anxiety since the start of this ‘break.’ All I hope for is for one last chance to play.” - Savannah Arvin (12), Westfield, Softball and Rugby
“I think that this has just reminded me how much of a community each team has, and how I feel that goes unnoticed sometimes because of how quickly the seasons go by. Whether it be their teammates, their friends and family coming to support them at games, or the local businesses showing their support, each student athlete is part of something greater than just their individuality as a team member in their sport.” - Brandon Hoke (12), Westfield, Unified Track & Field
“All things considered you can play golf your whole life. What makes this so difficult for me is that I’m a senior, and this was going to be my first time playing golf for the team. Granted, I really feel for my fellow seniors who have played the three previous seasons. I know they worked very hard and wanted a state championship badly.” -Jake Riddle (12), Westfield, Golf