Stunning. Scary. Surreal.
Many words and phrases have been used to describe the past two weeks, as COVID-19 continues to grab hold of the globe in unprecedented fashion. Just for measure, as of March 25, there were 59,502 coronavirus cases and counting in the U.S, the New York Times reported.
How quickly has the disease gotten out of hand? The response initially started with local governments cancelling mass gatherings, and soon progressed to asking citizens to remain home, all to fight the spread of coronavirus.
The tables have turned in quite bizarre fashion. Instead of getting on your feet to fight an enemy, the recommended battle strategy is to sit on the couch and cover your mouth.
So that is exactly what I have done the past two weeks.
I have passed the time like many others – watching favorite movies of mine, spending time with family, and exercising in the backyard occasionally. There is one unique twist: Fresno State is now entirely online and, as a student, I will spend the rest of spring semester receiving lessons in the form of video conferences.
As part of the increasing response to coronavirus, school closures have become commonplace in the new age of social distancing; Clovis Unified’s decision on March 13 to suspend in-person classes followed its suspension of spring sports and activities the day prior.
Both decisions made by the district brought safety to the community – along with pain.
Without a doubt, health is paramount. Ensuring COVID-19 does not reach local schools should be the priority. However, for high school seniors, the outbreak and subsequent response brings a nightmarish end instead of what many expected to be a storybook finish to their high school careers.
Seniors competing in spring sports face the inevitable prospect of a cancelled season. As of writing this, activities and sports, along with in-person classes, have merely been postponed, yet the rising number of coronavirus cases in the U.S paint a grim picture. Even California governor Gavin Newsome admitted that he is expecting schools to be closed until August.
It is a reasonable assumption that the season is over, and that is heartbreaking.
High school is an experience that athletes hold onto for the rest of their lives. They only get so many opportunities to make memories, and it pains me to see those chances taken away. I feel especially for the seniors who may never step on a high school field, court, or track again.
These seniors are not the only ones impacted. Many families will likely never have the chance to greet their son or daughter on the field for Senior Day, never get the chance to present them with flowers or watch them compete one last time for their school.
There is a rich history of spring sports here in Clovis, and the coronavirus will forever leave a dark mark on the 2020 season. Clovis High cannot defend their section baseball title. Buchanan and Clovis North cannot battle for the TRAC baseball title. In track and field, Caleb Foster will never end his high school career with a state title, and his Clovis North boys’ team will not get to defend their state team title (and neither will the Buchanan girls’ team, for that matter.)
Perhaps no other closure – except that of the Clovis Rodeo – delivers a larger blow to the Clovis community.
Everyone in town understands the responsible thing to do: cancel local sports, stay at home, care for loved ones and wait out the storm. There is little question to that.
Yet what also remains unquestionable is the town’s love for spring sports and its athletes. It is my hope every athlete recognizes how much they mean to Clovis, and how dearly they shall be missed.
In addition, I hope athletes continue to train and improve their craft responsibly within the confines of home. The coronavirus will only subside faster if everyone in the community cooperates with government and health officials. Just ask Clovis mayor Drew Bessinger, who stated Wednesday morning that “by working together and taking care of each other, we will get through this.”
And as painful as losing their season will be, spring athletes will get through this pandemic if they cooperate. Who knows, maybe when it is over, some of them will organize summer pickup games of baseball or softball. Maybe a few track and field runners will race and train together during summer break. You can take away the competition, but never the competitive nature from Clovis athletes.
So, I welcome invitations to their unorganized gatherings in the summer, if any take place. I will miss telling their stories over the next couple months and giving them the spotlight they work hard to earn.
In the meantime, let’s be strong, Clovis.
While it is okay to be upset about events cancelling around town, let’s not allow the coronavirus to completely overwhelm us in sadness and fear. There is one thing this community holds onto that will stay alive throughout any tough situation.
The spirit of Clovis – and its athletes – remain strong.