This article is a message and tribute to all of our Pennfield Schools student-athletes, who may have had their winter seasons cut short prematurely and their spring seasons cancelled entirely due to the coronavirus pandemic. My heart goes out to all of you! I cannot completely know what you are feeling, because none of us (coaches, teachers, or administrators) have ever had to deal with something like this during our own high school careers. It has been many years since I had the privilege to compete in high school sports, but I fondly remember those days and know just how important they were to me as a young person. I have a special feeling of empathy for all of those seniors involved with our spring sports, who did not get the opportunity to conclude their high school careers they way they had anticipated.
Athletics can teach us so many things! How to handle responsibility. How to be a good teammate. How to learn to sacrifice individual desires for the betterment of the team. How to deal with others. How to handle success. How to handle turmoil. How to handle adversity. These are some of the things that come to mind immediately.
This pandemic is not something we have had to deal with previously. It is not something we can learn about at a coaches clinic or in some instructional manual and pass it on to our young people. There is no overcoming the loss of a once in a lifetime opportunity. And that is what this spring season was for our student-athletes, an opportunity they will not get back. This is a real hardship.
We can continue to lament this lost period and feel sorry for ourselves, that would be justifiable. But that would not be the best way to move forward. May I suggest we use this lost opportunity as fuel for our individual fires! Let’s turn this disappointment into motivation for our next opportunity we have in our own lives. For our seniors, it may not be an athletic opportunity but instead an opportunity that is even bigger than athletic competition, the next chapter of your lives. If we do not learn and grow from this in some way, it will be a loss we did not overcome.
However, if we are able to find opportunity from this situation, whatever that may be for us individually, we can control our own response to this unprecedented challenge. This may be the only thing we can control right now, as none of us know for certain, when we will be allowed to resume our typical academic and athletic endeavors. But until then I challenge you to find ways to use your time effectively and prepare for that moment!
Thank you to all of our student-athletes for their efforts and dedication to Pennfield athletics. We will be together again soon and competing against other MHSAA schools in athletic competition. Until then please take care of yourselves, stay safe and be well. Go Panthers!