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Athlete Voices: A Dream Deferred

04/07/2020, 1:30pm CDT
By Travis Wilson

This is the second of a multi-part series examining the impact of the coronavirus outbreak and ensuing impact on high school athletes. Stay tuned for more content of various types in the coming days and weeks. To read Athlete Voices: A Dream Denied, which featured stories from winter sport athletes who saw their seasons cut short, please click here.

Uncertainty is difficult for anyone, but can be extra difficult for young people to deal with. As the coronavirus pandemic has gripped the state, nation, and world, it has cast an air of uncertainty around high school athletics in all areas.

For the 14-18 year old student-athletes who are thrown into limbo, it can be a challenging time. Hopes and dreams of returning the fields of spring athletics are on hold, with no guarantees about what the future holds.

So, how are the impacted athletes handling this time? What are their emotions? How are they moving forward?

We reached out to a number of boys and girls spring sport athletes to get their perspectives and share their stories. Below are their curated responses.


Participants

Jordan Berglin, Junior Girls Track & Field athlete, Pewaukee
Logan Carter, Senior Boys Baseball athlete, Waukesha South
Maeve-Aine Christlieb, Senior Girls Soccer athlete, McFarland
Rylee Dorow, Senior Girls Track & Field athlete, Reedsburg
Jared Henrichs, Junior Boys Track & Field athlete, New Berlin West
Argjent Ismaili, Junior Boys Track & Field athlete, Kenosha Indian Trail
Tucker Kohl, Senior Baseball athlete, New London
Anna Krieski, Senior Girls Track & Field athlete, Reedsburg
Brandon Kunz, Senior Baseball athlete, Whitnall
Luis Perez III, Junior Baseball athlete, Martin Luther
Isaiah Place, Senior Baseball athlete, Lancaster
Ethan Sacharski, Senior Boys Golf athlete, Muskego
Chandler Schmidt, Senior Baseball athlete, Stratford
Michael Stenbroten, Sophomore Track & Field athlete, Lake Mills
Alayna Suprenand, Junior Girls Softball athlete, Winnebago Lutheran
Joseph Thaler, Senior Boys Track & Field athlete, McDonell Central
TJ Williams, Sophomore Boys Track & Field and Baseball athlete, Racine Horlick


When did it start becoming a realistic concern that spring sports could be impacted?

Jordan Berglin, Pewaukee: "On my way back from state for basketball. I started thinking about how much this virus has taken from me. My basketball state, prom, volleyball club season, and then I started thinking about track and how it most likely won’t happen."

Argjent Ismaili, Kenosha Indian Trail: "We were at practice, in the weight room, when we knew something wasn't right with our coaches. We asked what was happening and they expressed that school had been cancelled for the proceeding three weeks. At that point, we had a full team meeting and were explained what had transpired."

Isaiah Place, Lancaster: "At Lancaster High School we had spring break scheduled for the week of March 9th-13th. My family took a vacation to San Diego, California and being on the west coast allowed for us to see how things were going in California. However, this all changed on March 11th. On Instagram at around 7pm, I got a notification of Instagram that Denver Nuggets star Rudy Gobert had tested positive for the Coronavirus. A little bit later on Sportscenter we saw that Adam Silver released a statement saying that the NBA season had been postponed. I started thinking that this could potentially affect high school sports. Once the WIAA released a statement that canceled the rest of the Girls Basketball championships as well as the Boys State Basketball tournament, I pretty much knew that spring sports would definitely be put on hold."

Chandler Schmidt, Stratford: "I knew once they cancelled state basketball that the spring seasons were next. Being a senior and having your two favorite sports getting impacted really hurts you. Our baseball team had great potential to try to defend our state championship from last year."

Joseph Thaler, McDonell Central: "Everything moved very fast from the shut down of national sports to the cancellation of our senior trip. Our boys basketball team was still playing and what was supposed to be one of our last fun nights as seniors turned into disappointment as no students were allowed to attend. As school was cancelled and spring sports were put on hold, I came to the realization that I may not have my senior track season."

What are your feelings and emotions about spring sports being delayed until at least the end of April?

Maeve-Aine Christlieb, McFarland: "I am very grateful that the WIAA is waiting to see how everything plays out before they make a final decision that could end seniors' sports careers. Assuming we start playing end of April/early May that’s still plenty of time for a season to happen."

Rylee Dorow, Reedsburg: "My heart is being tugged on, but my brain knows it's the best thing for everyone."

Jared Henrichs, New Berlin West: "I am feeling disappointed in the fact that I am no longer able to spend half or even the whole season with my teammates, But I also feel there is an opportunity for me and those who find ways to work around these challenges and do everything in their power to control the controllables."

Anna Krieski, Reedsburg: "I was heartbroken and at a loss for words. As a senior and the fact that I might not get to finish my last high school sport it makes me feel devastated."

Michael Stenbroten, Lake Mills: "It just all around is a depressing feeling. Lake Mills had six track meets from the end of March to the end of April and now those chances to prove ourselves aren’t there anymore. More chances to hangout with some of my senior friends in track are decreasing everyday, and I couldn’t even imagine being a senior during all of this, that feeling would be one of the worst for me."

Alayna Suprenand, Winnebago Lutheran: "I’m really bummed because I’ve recovered from not one, but two ACL injuries in a row, and haven’t played a high school sport for almost two years. I would have been cleared to play softball this spring, as well as AAU basketball. I have dreams of playing college basketball, but I’ve missed a lot of time because of my injuries, and this spring and summer is very important to me."

Joseph Thaler, McDonell Central: "It is heartbreaking for me. To train four months through snow, cold, and any other conditions, it is overwhelmingly disappointing. I had very lofty goals for my senior season and I put in the work to be able to achieve them. It seems like it is for nothing right now and I’m just hoping the WIAA can provide some competitive experience for track athletes."

What have you been doing to stay in shape & ready for if/when spring sports resume?

Logan Carter, Waukesha South: "I have been using a workout machine to keep my swings and when it is nice outside I throw the tennis ball in the backyard."

Rylee Dorow, Reedsburg: "I have been outside my house practicing footwork, doing throwing drills, and continuing to stay in shape. I have been practicing shot put and discus five days a week, for at least 30 minutes each day. I have also been getting in some walks and hikes for my mental health."

Brandon Kunz, Whitnall: "I’ve been lifting every day in my basement, running, throwing with my brother, and hitting into a Bow Net. I’ve also been taking ground balls with my Dad."

Michael Stenbroten, Lake Mills: "Unlike a lot of people I know, I at least have some workout equipment at my house. It’s no squat rack or barbell but I have some dumbbells and leg attachments for leg workouts. All the gyms being shutdown really impacted a lot of athletes and their gains. Not only for this spring season though, it could be affecting seasons coming up as well."

Alayna Suprenand, Winnebago Lutheran: "I’ve been working out A LOT. I also have been working a lot on ball handling and my shot as well as playing catch and taking soft toss to get ready for softball. If the weather is nice I will be outside, if not, I have an area with weights in my basement."

TJ Williams, Racine Horlick: "I’ve been doing a lot of working out in my room and trying to stay in shape and getting stronger. I’ve been doing tee work outside, throwing a tennis ball off the wall for glove work, and bands for my arm. I’ve even filled up some old milk jugs with water and am using those for weights. I feel like with everything closed and no practices, this is the time to work hard and outwork your opponents and that’s what I’m trying to do."

IF spring sports are not able to be played, what would that mean to you?

Jordan Berglin, Pewaukee: " I really hoped that I would make it to state this year for track in order to make up for my lost time at basketball. It is tough knowing that I won’t get to run with a lot of the same people next year because of college but I know that it’s probably even more tough on them."

Maeve-Aine Christlieb, McFarland: "Absolute heartbreak. This is my last year playing soccer and my entire life I have dreamed of going to state and bringing home a golden ball. Especially after how last year ended (lost on penalty kicks in the sectional semifinal to a team we should’ve beat), we are extremely hungry to avenge that loss. We have all worked too hard for the last nine months - weightlifting, club practices, open gyms - for us to not have a season."

Tucker Kohl, New London: "It's hard to think about not getting to have my Senior Night, one last playoff run, daily practices at Hatten Stadium, team dinners at local restaurants, being somewhat of a local celebrity for a few months, all things that I've dreamed of since I became a Bulldog at age five in kindergarten."

Luis Perez III, Martin Luther: "It would mean that all the hard work put in since the end of last summer would basically mean nothing because it’s what I had been working towards. As well as recruitment for this season, since I’m class of 2021."

Isaiah Place: "Personally, the postponing of the baseball season has really gotten at me. I have had the privilege to have my dad coach me ever since coach pitch. Currently, he is the head coach and this senior season has been one we have been looking forward to. Baseball is the bond between him and I and the passion we both share. To know I might not get to have one last season with my dad absolutely kills me."

Ethan Sacharski, Muskego: "It would mean that all the work that I’ve personally put in, almost goes to waste. I’m not able to play the sport I love with my teammates who are almost family to me."

Chandler Schmidt, Stratford: "It would be terrible. Basketball and Baseball are my favorite sports. Sports have been my life since growing up and them to be cancelled in the biggest moments of your high school career would be awful. Luckily, God has given me the opportunity to play baseball collegiately at Winona State. Thinking about the seniors who don’t have that opportunity, I feel for them the most."

About the Author

Travis Wilson serves as the WisSports.net General Manager, Football Editor, and contributing writer for other parts of the site. Wilson was selected as part of the Sports 40 Under 40 list by Coach & AD Magazine and the National High School Athletic Coaches Association for 2019. The Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFCA) named Travis the 2015 recipient of the Dave McClain Distinguished Service Award. He currently serves on the WFCA Executive Board as the Website and Communications Director and is a member of the Executive Board of the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association. A graduate of Richland Center High School and Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Travis was a three-sport athlete in high school (football, baseball, basketball) and currently resides in Reedsburg. You can follow him on Twitter at @travisWSN.

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