Many athletes had waited for this time since they were freshmen. As seniors, this spring season would offer one more chance to make their mark, perhaps make the playoffs and certainly make memories.
Instead, their seasons were cut short or almost wiped out completely by the COVID-19 outbreak that reached the Frisco area in mid-March. It was a painful ending for all the athletes, but especially the seniors.
That made it even more important for Frisco ISD coaches and teams to find ways to honor those seniors.
“I have 13 seniors this year, and 10 of them have been there since Day One helping build this program,” said Lebanon Trail baseball coach Michael Palo. “They are an outstanding group of young men that will hold a special place in my heart, and we needed to find a creative way to honor them.”
Lebanon Trail’s idea was to have a car parade of coaches and players that, while following social distancing guidelines, could pass by each senior’s home and celebrate his contributions and accomplishments. Several FISD teams have done similar parades.
Others have held virtual senior days, using Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to honor players. That’s what the Liberty baseball team did on the night when it’s actual senior day was scheduled.
“Throughout their time with Redhawk Baseball, these seven seniors have provided more for this program than we could possibly hope to offer them,” Liberty coach Scott McGarrh said. “For this reason, and so many others, we hope to provide at least a fraction of the honor that they so much deserve.”
When in-person classes and extracurricular activities were suspended, FISD soccer teams were gearing up for the playoffs and athletes in golf, tennis, track and field, softball and baseball were just getting started with spring seasons. There is no way to replace what they lost, but coaches wanted to do something.
In a time of social distancing, social media has helped. Many schools have used Twitter and Facebook to highlight seniors, creating profiles that include memories of the athlete, his or her accomplishments and plans for the future.
“We want our seniors to know they are loved, valued, and will be missed,” said Mindy Yeatman, the cross country and girls track and field coach at Independence.
The seniors at Memorial and Lebanon Trail form the inaugural graduating classes at FISD’s two newest high schools. The seniors helped build their athletic programs from scratch, and their coaches feel a special bond to the first group of seniors.
Memorial softball coach Porscha Albert said her seniors have been invaluable to the program, both for their contributions on the field and the way they worked together when the school opened in 2018 with students who formerly attended Heritage, Lone Star and Wakeland.
“Coming from different schools, they had a clear vision of what they wanted, and they wasted no time executing it,” Albert said. "It was tricky for them learning how to play with athletes they would normally compete against, but with time, they did. They welcomed the incoming freshmen and move-ins; they established what it means to be Warriors; and they took every opportunity to coach up and get to know each player in the program.”
The players felt like this year’s team could make the playoffs, Albert said, and her heart breaks for the seniors who won’t get a chance to prove it. Giving the players some recognition on Twitter was one way to show seniors her appreciation.
“What we have done is a start, and we will do more, but we simply cannot give them all that was taken so unfairly,” Albert said. “I hope our seniors know that we love them, and, that if we could, we would likely give them the world.”