Sports world gone silent


Marley Reback

VHHS sports jerseys and equipment are going unused as the spring sports seasons are being thrown away.

The bleachers are empty and cold. The green grass of the baseball fields is untouched and undisturbed. The only sound is a lack of one.

The athletes themselves are under a shelter-in-place order, far removed from their athletic venues. Some may have the tools to cope with the situation at hand and can continue to train and get better for seasons to come. Others may not have such luxuries, so they make do with creativity and whatever they can get their hands on. It’s a difficult time, but at least there’s next year, right?

I wouldn’t ask the seniors that question. For many of the senior athletes, this is it. Whether it is a last hurrah for their sporting careers or a chance to enhance their image for colleges, this is the worst possible outcome for them. It’s an unprecedented situation, and it’s understandable that coaches, athletes, and parents alike are struggling to cope with it.

“Nobody’s happy right now, that’s for sure,” said Mr. McDonald, the athletic director, “But obviously it’s much harder for the seniors, many of whom were hoping for a last hurrah.”

And it’s also difficult to deal with this because of the lack of control the athletes have over the situation. There’s nowhere to place the blame, and therefore, no easy way to resolve the emotions that come with this sudden rip away of an entire athletic season.

But no matter what, all of the seniors deserve praise for the immense amount of work that it takes to be a student athlete. Many of them have made sacrifices to try and become better versions of themselves in the athletic realm. And two athletes in particular have experienced unique situations that make this even worse.

Michael Moore (12) is one of these athletes. The lanky and exuberant senior has had a long and successful career at Vernon Hills in both basketball and baseball. On the basketball court, Moore used his height and basketball smarts to great results as a center for the varsity team his junior and senior year. But it’s no secret that his heart lies with America’s pastime.

Moore is an intimidating presence on the mound when he pitches, and his skills have enabled him to have a collegiate career in baseball next year. Unfortunately for him, an injury to his knee at the start of the basketball season threatened to derail a promising senior baseball campaign. So, Moore played it safe and worked hard to get himself healthy to play the sport he cares so much about.

“I went to the doctor the day the schools announced they were closing,” said Moore. “That was also the same day that I was finally cleared to play.”

How’s that for irony?

And he’s not the only one who’s had a rough go at it on the baseball team.

Tony Brown (12) is one of Michael’s teammates on the baseball team. His talents have allowed him to earn a Baseball scholarship at Furman University next fall. He is a gifted athlete, and, in order to prepare for the rigors of athletics in college, Tony took a gap year to work on his skills. He came into this season hungry and ready to show off his abilities.

“I was pumped, I put in a ton of work over the last year,” said Brown.

He worked hard to gain those skills, but now he has to wait even longer to apply them. For Tony, the last high school game he played was two years ago. It’ll be almost another year before he plays for a school again. This is a significant amount of time spent away from the game he loves and puts so much work into.

However, despite their misfortunes, both athletes are focusing on the future.
“The setback is minor in the grand scheme of things, and there’s much more to come next year,” said Moore. “I’m trying not to dwell on it [the season].”

Brown has the same mindset — upset at what has been lost, but of the same mentality that has made him a successful student athlete.

“My advice to anyone in this situation is to work your butt off every single day,” said Brown. “You never know when that last game will be.”