Senior athletes thought they had something special this spring
Awesome Blossoms senior athletes thought they had "something special" as they were set to embark on the 2020 spring sports season.
That something special, burning inside the senior athletes from the baseball, softball and track teams will never be unleashed as the season was cancelled by the Minnesota State High School League due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
"I wasn't surprised that the spring sports were cancelled, but I still was hoping that we would have a track and field season," remarked star Blooming Prairie three-sport letter winner Gabe Hagen.
Track and field hasn't been "very big" in Blooming Prairie the last couple of years "but I felt like this year we had something special," Hagen believed.
Riauna Bishop, starting pitcher for the Awesome Blossoms the past three years, feels the same competitive fire as Hagen.
"Our softball team has worked so hard to get to this point," Bishop says. "We have such a great bond and looked forward to achieving the many goals we had for ourselves and the team this season," she added.
Bishop’s teammates shared her optimism about the 2020 spring softball season. "I had high hopes for this softball season, so it is very disappointing," says catcher Maya Lembke.
"I was devastated and sad because I grew up playing softball and it hurts knowing that I will never be able to play softball again for Blooming Prairie," Marti Snider related.
Awesome Blossom softball fans were also saddened to learn of spring sports being cancelled. "It is very sad to think I will never get to watch and cheer on my best friends who play the sports they love," said Jayde Wacek.
Baylee Sorensen also shares that feeling. "I was shocked the season was cancelled. I had thought (probably hoped) that the Minnesota State High School League would postpone the spring seasons until the summer. I never thought that the last time I watched my friends do what they love would be the last time."
Softball player Julia Worke doesn't hide her feelings. "I am upset that spring sports got cancelled," she said. "I know that it is the right thing to do, though, but it still makes me upset," she added.
Girls varsity basketball coach John Bruns said there are many things, including sports, that everyone takes for granted.
"I think this experience should make us really appreciate those memories that we make every day with our friends in school and in all of our extra-curricular activities," Bruns mentioned.
Boys basketball coach Nate Piller and his fellow coaches and players were disappointed they did not get to see action in the state tournament because of COVID-19.
"At this point, I’m grateful that we had the opportunity to play the section championship game and know that we qualified for the state tournament," Piller said.
"All-in-all, we had a terrific year," Coach Piller said. How the state tournament would have turned out, no one really knows, he pointed out. "I think we would have competed and had as good of a chance as anyone," he said.
Only three teams from Class A qualified for the state tournament before the season was cancelled: Blooming Prairie, Henning and Southwest Minnesota Christian.
Piller also shared the disappointment of senior athletes. Many had legitimate chances to go to state this spring and set school records in their sports.
Piller, an art teacher, said many high school art shows have also been cancelled.
"Obviously, we’re all doing what we can and the pandemic is overwhelmingly the focus of our attention," remarked Piller.
"But these experiences are things that high school students have worked hard at for months and years, so you feel bad for everyone involved," Piller continued.
"You have to take solace in the fact that we haven’t been decimated by the virus and that our actions may have prevented worst-case scenarios that were being predicted," he said with thankfulness.
"Getting our spring sports cancelled for our senior year just goes to show you that you should never take anything for granted and appreciate what you have in front of you," said senior athlete Jarrett Larson.
Jacob McHenry, track competitor and manager for the state champion Awesome Blossoms football team, admitted that he was shocked by the cancellation of the spring sports seasons.
McHenry gives the following advice to everyone: "I just want to encourage people to stay strong because I know we will get through this together and life will eventually go back to normal."
Senior Zach Archer is not a spring sports person but has compassion for those spring sports athletes who lost their season. "These athletes waited all year for their season and then had it cancelled," Archer said.
Because of an injury that befell him during the basketball season, Karson Vigeland was not able to prepare for a spring sports season. "I am sad to see the year had to end like this," said Vigeland.