The spring sports season had barely gotten underway when everything came to a screeching halt in mid-March due to the worsening coronavirus outbreak.
Then came the death knell: a full cancellation of K-12 classes for the remainder of the school year. The April 6 announcement by the governor and state superintendent’s office dashed any remaining hopes for a truncated high school season that would have started in early May.
“I don’t know if it’s hit me yet,” said Selah High baseball coach Mike Archer, whose team was coming off a state championship and expecting to contend again this season. “I feel so bad for the kids, but especially our seniors. There’s probably some life lesson out there in all of this, but it’s hard not to feel sorry for everyone involved.”
Archer and his five assistant coaches aren’t just bummed out for the athletes and their families; they’re also coping with a major sense of loss themselves. Now that the high school season has been scrapped, the coaches are having to think ahead to summer ball.
“It’s been tough on all the guys,” Archer said. “We get excited for this time of year because baseball is our outlet. Some guys golf, some like to fish. We coach baseball.”
Selah softball coach Bill Harris and his staff are experiencing many of the same emotions. The Vikings were bringing back almost their entire lineup after making a strong late-season run in 2019. Now, all they can do is look ahead to next season.
“You don’t know how much you’ll miss something until you don’t have it,” Harris said. “I feel really bad for the seniors, but for all the other kids, too. They’re also losing a whole year of their high school experience, so it’s been pretty tough on everyone.”
While Harris is disappointed, he understands why the decision was made to cancel the entire season. For there to even be a next season, we have to get past the current crisis.
“We have to keep everything in context and do the socially right thing,” he said. “We need to follow all the rules and regulations so we can put this all behind us. Once we get past it, we can figure out how to adjust to a new normal.”
Boys soccer coach Josh Koreski is approaching the news with a similar mindset. Now in his third season, he was hoping this might be the year when the Vikings could make a deep postseason run. But he also knows nothing can be done about it. He just has to accept it and move on.
“The real world can be pretty brutal, but we have to stay positive so we can learn something from all of this,” Koreski said. “I always tell my guys that every single game is an opportunity, and you have to play like it’s your last. My heart is torn out for our seniors, but all of those guys gave it everything they had last year. So if that was how they had to go out, I’m OK with it.”
Like the other coaches, Koreski has also been checking in with his assistants on a daily basis. They’re already starting to talk about the strengths and weaknesses of next year’s squad as they develop a strategy.
“We have a fantastic junior class and a loaded freshman class, so we should be pretty good,” Koreski said. “There are silver linings in everything, and if I can stay positive, that will translate into our program’s culture.”
Similarly, Selah track and field head coach Kelly Mattson is trying to take away as many positives as he can from this lost season. For starters, he would have had 120 athletes on the roster this year, which shows that interest in the program is continuing to grow.
A number of competitors came into this season in exceptional shape as the Vikings hoped to improve upon last year’s finish at state (girls, 12th place; boys, 13th). Another bright spot was this year’s 29 seniors, five of whom have signed to compete at the collegiate level.
“This year’s senior class is exceptionally tight, and they had become a family within a family,” Mattson said. “For them not to be able to experience their senior season together — to have one last opportunity to build memories — was a big blow to them.”
Mattson also credited the seniors with providing strong leadership for the rest of the program. Even when there was still hope that the season would continue, the seniors made sure the underclassmen were staying engaged.
“The seniors were a great source of leadership for the program,” he said. “Even after we left school, they were the ones reaching out to everyone else. So even though we weren’t together, everyone on the team felt connected.”
Now that the 2020 spring sports season has officially been lost, Mattson and the other Selah coaches are doing their best to focus on what might have been.
“Life goes on,” he said. “All we can do is tell them we’re sorry, that we love them, and that we’re looking forward to a future where everyone’s path is positive.”
Some of the spring athletes we are missing in 2020:
• Baseball — Wyatt Berriman, Nate Gutierrez, Caden Herbst, Dean Pettyjohn, Chase Ergeson
• Softball — Sydney Wells, Kayle Ice, Lizzie Hull, Ryan Hutchinson, Mia Peralta, Rylee Coons, Aerin Lee
• Boys soccer — Brandon Vallejo, Dylan Foster, Sergio Mendoza, Franky Ceja, Victor Calderon, Christian Ramirez, Daniel Valladares
• Track and field — Olivia Martin (University of Idaho), Shea Mattson (U of Idaho), Nicole DeHerrera (Seattle Pacific University), Jon Watkins (Spokane Community College), Zachary Garcia (University of Arizona)
• Boys tennis — Logan LeVon, Aidan Franklin, Caden Harris, Kyle Berriman, Malachi Young, Quentin Garretson, Logan Godfrey
• Girls tennis — Mary-Frances Ballew, Ashlynn Hall, Clara-Beth Hamill, Hannah Walter, Tanna Bond, Maya Hall, Sydnie Gates, Evani Valencia