High school seniors coping without sports

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Wakeland senior Todd Fuller

Wakeland senior Todd Fuller has been a starter on varsity with the Wolverines ever since his freshman season.

The Frisco Wakeland boys soccer team very well could be gearing up for the Class 5A Region II tournament right now.

The Wolverines have reached regionals in each of the previous seven seasons, and this year’s squad was well on their way to making another deep playoff run.

In fact, Wakeland has made it to Georgetown, the host of the state tournament each year since 2016 and are fresh off of a state championship game appearance a year ago. Most of last year’s crew, consisting of 16 seniors, returned this season for another crack at it and hadn’t lost a match in 21 contests thus far in 2020.

However, the entire team, along with high school athletes in every other sport across the state, is living in a world without organized sports due to the COVID-19 outbreak sweeping the globe.

As of now, the earliest date that sports may return in UIL-sanctioned competitions is May 4, but there is also a strong possibility looming that the spring athletic seasons could get cancelled altogether.

“Being able to finish this season would be huge,” said Todd Fuller, Wakeland senior midfielder. “We all go back and forth on whether or not we think it’s going to end, but we want to be as prepared as possible for the playoffs if that does happen. Soccer-wise, it’s hard to stay in shape because we don’t really have a place where we can go and play, but we’re still staying fit conditioning-wise.”

However, Fuller and the other 15 seniors on the squad are aware of the fact that they might not be able to go for one last ride at a state title.

“It’s very different feeling going to state in your senior year, and it was supposed to be our year,” he said. “It’s frustrating because everyone is going to remember us by this year. It could also even mess up our rhythm and what we have built later on down the road.”

While spring sports such as soccer were already shifting into postseason mode, others like softball were just getting ramped up with districts across the area beginning district play just before everything came to a sudden halt.

Two days prior to the UIL postponing athletics, two powerhouses in District 8-5A squared off in the district opener with two familiar foes in The Colony and Little Elm going head-to-head. That matchup not only pinned senior superstars Lauren Lucas and Jayda Coleman against each another, but it also featured a rematch from last season’s regional finals.

“The good thing to me is that at least we had that good run last year,” Lucas said. “Instead of looking back and thinking we could have gone a step further this year, I try and look at it positively that we had that great run last year. I can live with this because of how successful we were last year.”

The two juggernauts were on a collision course once again in 2020 to not only compete for the district crown but also potentially matchup in the later rounds of the playoffs.

In that last showdown back on March 10, Lucas and Co. held a 3-0 lead over The Colony until a seven-run fourth inning pushed the Lady Cougars in front for good for a thrilling 7-3 victory.

“Even though we lost, I’m glad we had that game against The Colony so the younger players can experience what it will be like next year,” said Melissa Ocasio, Little Elm senior outfielder. “That’s a game that is really going to shape them for the rest of their high school experience.”

Other sports like baseball had yet to even kickoff district play in most districts in the state, as many players were planning on using this season to showcase their talents to college recruits in hopes of competing next year at the collegiate level.

One senior in particular who planned on potentially landing a college scholarship in the next few months was Celina senior Zane Barnett, who has served as the Bobcats’ ace for the last two seasons.

A college coach had even planned to come watch Barnett pitch just before things got postponed, but that meeting on March 13 never occurred.

“I’ve already had some breakdowns because this is my passion and I don’t know if it’s over or not,” he said. “Now I have to work even harder for these coaches to see me. It really thins out the herd and shows who is willing to put in the extra effort and time.”

In the meantime, Barnett claimed he’s holding on hope that this season can be salvaged and has resorted to throwing with friends in parking lots and using others’ in-home batting cages to stay prepared.

“It’s going to be heartwarming, but at the same time it’s going to be very high intensity if we have a chance to come back,” he said. “This is the best year we have had in my four years of being at Celina, and it’s going to be a fun season if it does get started back up.”

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