What They Think: Athletes Sound Off About Uncertain Season

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With many state associations delaying their outdoor seasons in recent days in response to the growing number of COVID-19 cases being confirmed across the United States, track and field has taken an immediate halt. 

Young athletes do recognize the importance of the decisions being made and respect them, but there's also an internal struggle between what's necessary and what's lost in the immediate aftermath of cancellations and postponements. 

MileSplit reached out to a number of athletes around the country and asked what they thought of the current situation.

- Gavin Schurr, Fairview (CO) High School

With gyms starting to close down, teammates and competitors of mine are having more and more difficulties staying in shape and continuing to get faster, jump further, higher, throw further and so on. Recruitment for a lot of my friends looks like it's taking a huge hit as well, as the goals they had for this season. A number of friends and competitors were going for state records, including myself. Now with the possibility of not even getting to run a meet this spring, we are all extremely upset. But we know that we have to train and do whatever is necessary incase we get a chance at running a meet.

I just urge athletes to keep training and not give up. Eventually everything will get better and competition will resume. Eventually.

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Alysia Lisanti, Old Bridge (NJ) High School

Track and field is extremely important to me (Alysia is second from right). Not only because it's my sport and it's fun, but there's more behind it than that. It helps me keep my mind off things, it allows me to have a space where I put my effort into what I love, and it allows me to take a break from the craziness of life.

Without it, I don't think I would have been able to get through all the tough times I've had. It would be awful to lose a season. On top of that, I'm also currently a junior, which means it's the perfect time to show colleges what I'm made of. Spring track is the time to get new PRs, break records and get noticed. If I don't run this season, my potential of getting a scholarship could be gone. What am I suppose to do? How am I supposed to get noticed during my senior year when it's almost too late?

Also, what about the seniors? There is no extra year of eligibility. What about them? No one wants their senior year destroyed. Track forms so many memories, good times and it gives you a reason to feel good about yourself. It makes you happy that you accomplished something. I couldn't stand to lose my spring track season and I think everyone on my team throughly agrees. We need track. 

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Braeden Holcombe, Palmer Ridge (CO) High School

With this outbreak it's really disheartening that athletes are being impacted in such a severe way. I was informed at 11:30pm the night before leaving for NYC that my opportunity to compete & represent my state at nationals was canceled. What's upsetting is that it took a National State of Emergency to cause everyone to wake up. Now entire sports organizations and communities are shutting down. This is real life.

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Taylor James, Niwot (CO) High School

As soon as the corona virus came to Colorado, in the back of my mind I knew that there was a possibility that it would affect the upcoming outdoor track season. However, the decision the CHSAA made to suspend all Colorado high school sports at least until April 6 still shocked me. I had just gotten onto a bus with my teammates and were heading toward a track meet when we found out.

We were confused and heartbroken. As the bus continued on, the mix of emotions grew. My teammates were conflicted by both dread and determination due to the possibility that that meet could very well be the last meet of the season. The rest of the ride was filled with blank stares and silent tears. It must have looked as though we had seen a ghost. We never could have imagined a situation where our track season would be taken away.

People find it easy to perceive that athletes as overreacting, selfish, and emotional during this time. It is true that the concept of "social distancing" that organizations like CHSAA have employed through these suspensions/cancellations, are for the greater good and for the benefit and health of the people around us. It is understood in the athletic community that COVID-19 is a matter that should not be taken lightly.

However, we as athletes shouldn't be criticized for feeling devastated. My teammates and I have been working extremely hard since June and therefore it is quite saddening to see that effort, the pains, the pure joy, the camaraderie of it all, slowly fading before us.

The sport of track and field specifically is not just about the win, or about beating a competitor. To us, it's meaning is so much deeper. We run because we love it. We run because it is the idea of being able to better ourselves physically and mentally day by day which helps us to get up each morning.

We run because that is where we find our team, our friends, and coaches who spend so much of their time to support and help us improve as people. As runners, and as athletes of all sports, we look to our team and it's atmosphere to get us through the thick and the thin. For many athletes, sports make up their lives. Track is a huge part of mine.

Our teams are our extended families. And that is why all of this is so heartbreaking. But let me make one thing clear. We cannot stop running. We are upset and discouraged, but life continues. Sports help to define us. Track and field helps to define me. And nothing can stop me from continuing to run and to be myself. In running it is always a race to the finish, but now, together, we wait for the start.

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Alexis Doherty, Nazareth (PA) High School 

I've been told my entire life that 'I'm too small' or 'I'm not strong enough,' but now that my body is finally catching up to the rest of the crowd, I've been receiving a higher level of respect from the same people who had commented in the past about my size or strength. 

It took me 16 years and 11 months to finally be taken seriously as a top athlete and now, with no season ahead, I fear 'my time' may be passing me by ... AGAIN! This photo (second from left) shows how tiny I was as a 10th grader holding my own against the best of the rest. While those who looked at my size never said I wasn't good enough, the way I wasn't taken seriously as an athlete has always upset to me. I fear that in potentially losing my junior track and field season, I may miss the moments where I can once again prove that I am capable of competing against anyone. I fear a future of competing in college could pass me by.

I've had to walk away from other challenges in order to pursue track. And now, all the physical and emotional preparation I've put into my career might require me to move on toward a season without physical competition. 

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Jenny Jacoby, Cape Coral (FL) High School

    I love absolutely nothing more than this sport and these people. Running is my world, and it's the only thing that gets me out of bed usually and is always the best part of my day. To some people, missing a season might not seem like the biggest deal -- because I'm not a senior and I still have next year to enjoy it all. To me, though, it means missing out on countless memories that I can never get back, losing opportunities to hit times I need for college, and not getting the chance to express my competitive edge.

    My goals for this track season have kept me going through the hardest workouts and have forced me to stay focused, on and off the track. I look forward to race day all week, and the second it is over I am ready for the next one. Without race day it becomes next to impossible to stick to those goals as an individual, let alone keep a whole team fixated on them.

    If this season gets cancelled it will leave us all with unfinished goals, seniors with incomplete experiences, and runners everywhere with a sense of dissatisfaction. I am not ready to hang up my spikes yet, but for the first time ever, the success of my season is completely out of my hands.

    Track and field is more than just a sport, it's an entire community we would be losing access to. Not being able to see my coach and best friends on the track everyday is honestly heartbreaking. Running is an addiction and it is hard to imagine having to potentially go months without it. I find comfort and passion in running. No matter what is going on in my life I manage to pull out a run, even if it seems impossible.

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    - Zach Pizzo, FAU Henderson (FL) High School

      Losing a season would be devastating to me. My school is a very rigorous dual-enrollment program where we take college and high school classes and we are expected to perform exceptionally in all aspects academically. I found this pressure, along with working multiple jobs, to be very stressful and needed an outlet. So, in my junior year I joined the track team and fell in love with it. I made all kinds of new friends who have changed my life and found a great way to stay healthy, have fun, and have an outlet for stress.

      I have fallen in love with running so much, in fact, that running in college had become a real option and goal for me. My improvement from last year to this year has been really encouraging and I was hoping to drop my times this season to the point where I could join a college program. If I lost this season, that hope would probably diminish and I would have to stop running competitively for good. Sure, I love running in general, but the competition that comes with track is second to none, and losing that for good would be devastating for me.

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      Megan Massmann, Gahanna Lincoln (OH) High School 

      In Ohio, winter and spring sports have been suspended until April 6. We have entered a no contact period from coaches, and we are social distancing from teammates, gyms are closed, and our district's tracks are off limits. We are completely alone, yet united together with the thousands of other athletes in our shoes.

      With the cancellations and postponements of track meets and track seasons, I have learned how much I need to appreciate what I have, before it is taken away.

      Just like fighting through that last hard workout rep, or the last 200m of a race, we need to grit our teeth, welcome the pain, and never give up. I have my moments of weakness, fear, and sadness but if we can valiantly fight through this challenge, we can come out on the other end stronger and be more appreciative of what we have.

      We often do not get the luxury of knowing the last time we will do something, and I mourn with the seniors who are watching their seasons slip through their hands. But I can also learn from their unfortunate circumstances and not only race and train with no regrets, but live without regrets, either.

      In this hard time, where we do not know what is to come and nothing is certain, I do know one thing: Patience and integrity are key. 

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      Angel Sanchez (far right), Perris (CA) High School

      Losing the season was like losing a piece of my life. I'm still at a disbelief that there will not be a track & field season. This was the season where I was suppose to leave a mark in my school by hitting fast times in the 800m and 1600m. Track season is where I excelled and was my ticket to getting to run for a college and when that opportunity gets stripped away from you it's heart breaking.

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      - Teagan Zwaanstra, Thunder Ridge (CO) High School

      I know the postponements are disappointing to a lot of people, but I think it's also an opportunity to demonstrate who we are as athletes. After the suspensions are lifted, we will be able to see who put in the effort -- despite the challenges -- and we'll know who took as a 'break' from training. I now know I can never take a single meet or practice for granted. I am excited to see how I can grow as an individual from this experience. 

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