Above: EGHS senior Brenda McKinney. Photo credit: Dana Gee
By Suraj Sait
On April 29, reality hit home for many East Greenwich spring athletes — especially the seniors. When Governor Raimondo announced that students wouldn’t be going back to school this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, it didn’t take long for the Rhode Island Interscholastic League to cancel the spring season for good.
“The emotions I feel right now about the season being over is something I’ve never felt before,” said Codey Thereault, a 12-season runner at EGHS. “Not getting the last season with my boys that I have grinded with for the past 3 or 4 years is heartbreaking.”
Thereault isn’t alone in his grief. Whether it be baseball, sailing, softball, ultimate frisbee, baseball, tennis, or volleyball, seniors athletes are feeling the effects of a high school career cut short, possibly even their last chances at a championship.
“It’s just heartbreaking on so many levels,” said Chris Cobain, EGHS’s athletic director. “A lot of them are really disappointed.”
“I was really looking forward to playing this season and competing for the championship,” said Jack Demetros, a four-year member of the boy’s volleyball team. “It was gonna be a big season for both the team and me individually.”
For most senior athletes, the decision to cancel spring sports wasn’t a surprising one. Some have even accepted not playing for the greater good.
“With the current situation and horrible events happening every day, I’m okay with not sailing for the safety of everyone,” said Anthony Purcell, a captain of the Avenger Sailing Team. “Although sailing is a great way to escape the news for a few hours, [it’s] a lifelong sport that I will pursue for as long as I am capable.”
Ken Chan, one of Coach Bob Downey’s crew on the Avenger Baseball team, agreed.
“I’m upset that baseball is cancelled but I understand that it has to happen,” Chan said.
With the season canceled, some athletes have found solace in substitute activities, such as DIY projects and other forms of exercise.
“From walking dogs to fixing gutters, I’ve been doing everything I can to help my family,” said Purcell. “Additionally, I’ve committed a lot of my time to working on a long-term boat restoration.”
“As a substitute, I’ve been playing ping pong with my family and talking walks outside as well,” said Alan Zhang, a member of the Avenger Boys Tennis team that took home the championship last year. “Although these [activities] are really boring compared to the excitement of tennis, it’s enough to keep me occupied.”
Other team sports, like baseball and volleyball, don’t have comparable activities, both Chan and Demetros said.
“There really are no substitutes for the season, especially the memories you make and the experiences you have,” said Demetros.
Regardless of whether they have found alternatives or not, senior athletes have found solace in their bright futures, whether it be college sports or their post-secondary plans.
“I’m going to play for Bentley’s club team next year, so at least I have that to look forward to,” said Laura Bernard-Sasges, a member of the Ultimate Frisbee team.
“I’ve been doing my normal runs,” said Thereault. “[It’s] going to keep me in great shape for the army.”
Some have even taken heart that their loved ones are doing well, while others have found a valuable break in the reprieve from school.
“I’m thankful that all my friends, teammates, coaches and family are healthy,” said Thereault.
“I’ll likely never have another 10 weeks of doing absolutely nothing again,” added Purcell. “So I’m doing all I can to make the most out of the situation and find peace in myself.”
Suraj Sait, valedictorian for the EGHS Class of 2020, reports for East Greenwich News.