Written By Ben Nash
On Apr. 20, 2020, the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) canceled all sports for the remainder of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. League activities had already been suspended from mid-March through Apr. 18, but the final decision still came as a painful shock. Since then, many spring sport athletes have been trying to come to terms with CHSAA’s decision, the impacts of which are being felt now and will continue to be felt into the future.
Kieran Rielly, a senior center fielder on the Denver East baseball team who was a presumed captain before the cancellation, said “It’s obviously heartbreaking. Especially for us seniors. It’s what needs to be done to keep everyone safe and healthy, but it hurts. It especially hurts me because I am still uncertain as to whether or not I will be playing baseball at the next level. I may never get to step onto the playing field again, especially with my brothers. I love my teammates like my brothers, and I was ready to lead them to a playoff berth and a district championship this year. To have that taken away from me is heartbreaking.
Max Windley, a junior outfielder baseball player for Denver East said, “Personally, I believe it was necessary to preserve the safety and health of players and coaches. But to lose a season hurts more than any other loss in baseball.” What’s that mean? It means he’d rather lose Game 7 of the World Series than lose an entire season of his high school career.
Head Denver East baseball coach A.J. Peterson commented, “COVID-19 has brought challenges no one was prepared for. We feel for our seniors the most and the loss of their senior season, prom, and traditional graduation. As tough as things may have been, we try to keep in mind that while the virus may not directly impact us, it could impact our grandparents or people we love the most. The cancellation of the spring season is unfortunate and inconvenient, but necessary. [I say] thank you to our seniors for your investment in yourselves, our program, and our school. #HaloNation”
The United States hasn’t faced a crisis of this magnitude since World War II. It hasn’t faced a pandemic like this since the Spanish Flu of 1918. Even the horrible events of 9/11 pale in comparison to the worldwide, continuous and extensive impact of a virus we can’t even see. As part of the Denver East baseball team, I recognize that baseball isn’t everything when we’re dealing with matters of life and death. But as a human being, I realize that so many things are important to us as individuals, as family members, as friends and as members of society, that we sometimes forget to appreciate the little things in life. Personally, I want to hear the crack of a bat hitting a ball. I want to hear my teammates’ hoots and hollers from the dugout. I want to smell freshly cut grass on opening day. I want us to get back to the excitement of being able to play America’s pastime that I remember pre-COVID-19. When this pandemic ends, I have faith that we’re all going to appreciate the smaller things in life.