A ‘thank you’ to the Class of 2020 athletes

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Just because bad news is seemingly inevitable doesn’t make it any easier to digest once it’s official.
The announcement that spring sports was officially cancelled by the NSAA last week was tough to swallow. With the world we live in now, the decision is the right one. Still, it stings.
This has been tough to digest. The favorite sport of the News-Register sports department is the one that’s in session. I truly mean that, and hope our coverage reflects it.
And, boy, the area was going to be tough in several sports.
The Giltner girls track team was primed to make more history with a possible sixth straight Class D championship. That won’t happen.
The Aurora girls track team had a couple dominant pieces that would have made some noise at Omaha Burke. All is quiet for now.
High Plains had a trio of senior boys who were expecting to collect a neckfull of medals in the coming months. Instead, they’re off to their college sports without getting a proper send-off.
This could have been the year where the Aurora boys soccer team took the final step to elite status and made a run toward the state tournament. Instead, a group of freshmen that started this program four years ago won’t get the chance to show that on the pitch.
In the grand scheme of things, sports isn’t really that big a deal. There are winners and losers in everything in life, so some of that doesn’t seem important right now to some people -- rightfully so.
This whole situation stinks for everyone involved, but I can’t imagine what it’s like for the seniors to have so many ‘lasts’ ripped away from them.
No prom.
No spring sports.
No last month of school.
No last day of school.
No graduation?
I’m confident that all our area schools will bend over backward to make sure that the Class of 2020 will be honored and receive a diploma. It may not be in May, but that doesn’t matter at this point. Everyone just wants to see it happen.
It’s not just here, either. There are thousands of young athletes who don’t get a chance to compete for a final time, win a state title or make one more memory with their friends.
This is tough. I’ve developed connections with a lot of these athletes. I’ve talked to them after their biggest successes and toughest shortcomings. It’s extremely difficult to see this opportunity taken away from them.
Hopefully soon, I want to tell one of their last high school stories. Although it’s a difficult discussion, I know many of them will have candid thoughts and can’t wait to share them. They deserve that.
Let’s not lose sight of the fact that it isn’t just the seniors going through a tough time.
There are three other classes that were affected as well. The juniors, sophomores and freshmen all lost an opportunity to participate in spring athletics.
You haven’t been forgotten or pushed to the side. This is tough for everyone.
The spring sports season is special in a lot of ways because it signals an ending.
I always try to tell those seniors, whether it be state track, golf or whatever, how much fun I’ve had telling their story.
If I don’t get that chance, then let this be the time. I really appreciated all the conversations we’ve had and never turning me away.
It could have been moments after winning a state championship or in the case of others, coming up just short of gold.
Not one of you ever told me ‘no.’ And for that, I thank you.
RICHARD RHODEN can be reached at sports@hamilton.net.

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