SVSJ commentary: Washington high school finds way to recognize spring high school class of 2020 athletes despite season cancellation; we call on all schools to follow suit, including both high schools in Valley

Good Wednesday morning. This morning we want to discuss a significant issue arising from the cancellation of spring high school sports here in Washington and elsewhere around the country thanks to school closures resulting from the current COVID-19 disease pandemic: how to recognize those senior high school athletes who contributed so much to their programs but won’t get the chance to leave it all on the field one last time this season. Unlike in the NCAA, where seniors were granted another year of eligibility, high schools for many reasons logistically aren’t able to do that. So what do you do? Well, a high school here in western Washington may have found a solution, and it’s one we believe all high schools should explore to help recognize their class of 2020 spring athletes.

This week, administrators and coaches at Shelton High School, down in Mason County and who host every spring the Shelton Invitational track and field meet, a meet that Mount Si High School’s track and field program has participated in in the past, trekked out to the homes of their class of 2020 athletes and their families, and awarded every single one of those athletes a varsity letter for this spring. Getting that letter for many of these kids is a pretty important accomplishment, one which recognizes their hard work and contributions to their athletic programs and one that history will forever remember about these kids. The school posted a video to YouTube, and also posted it to Facebook. See it below.

As you saw, the awards were placed and recognition was given in such a way as to promote social distancing and the current rules regarding such here in Washington, rules which Governor Jay Inslee indicated to a large degree will remain past their scheduled May 4 expiration last night in a televised statewide address. While this recognition can’t replace the lost opportunities to play and participate for these seniors, especially true this year for Mount Si’s baseball and softball teams with them not being able to play on their new field after three years off-campus, giving these seniors at least this shows that the schools recognize the importance of what these kids have contributed not just on the field, but off it as well, and that it’s also important to ensure that history will forever remember this contribution.

Sure, it goes on an athlete’s letterman’s jacket but to that athlete, that is a very special part of that jacket. Some athletes work very hard moving up the chain to their senior year, making it to varsity for the first time as a senior, and getting that letter signifies that hard work, something that for those athletes in particular is something they’ll be able to tell their kids and grandkids about when they get older, allowing those athletes to teach the next generation valuable life lessons about hard work and perseverance and providing living proof of that life lesson.

It can also be argued that this amounts to a “participation trophy” for these kids, that they didn’t have to work at all to get it. Which to an extent is, under normal circumstances, true. But to that we’d say two things – one, many of these programs had gotten in several days worth of practices, and a few even had actual game action, before the plug was pulled last month, and two, this pandemic has completely thrown all the previous norms of society out the window. Extreme times, as we are living in now, call for extreme measures, and we find this to not be too extreme, but perhaps the best way short of actually giving these kids their eligibility for next year back, something which we noted was logistically for many reasons going to be impossible to do at the high school level, to do this.

We would encourage administrators at both Mount Si and Cedarcrest High Schools, led by their fine principals John Belcher and Ray LaBate respectively, and their athletic directors, Mount Si’s Darren Brown and Cedarcrest’s Jason Frederick, along with Snoqualmie Valley School District and Riverview School District superintendents Rob Manahan and Dr. Anthony Smith respectively, to look into what Shelton did for its senior athletes and follow suit in their respective districts. Additionally, we call on high schools around this state and country whose states have shut their high school sports down for the spring due to the pandemic to also follow suit. What Shelton High School did for its senior athletes was a tremendous, caring, thoughtful gesture, and it was one we hope spreads around this country to give our class of 2020 something good to think about during a time of such hardship for so many.

Rhett Workman

About Rhett Workman

Rhett Workman is the editor of the Snoqualmie Valley Sports Journal. Workman is a veteran sports journalist, having covered Snoqualmie Valley sports for nearly a decade with the Snoqualmie Valley Record newspaper before starting up the SVSJ. Workman's coverage has earned the support and respect of Valley coaches, players, parents and fans, and the SVSJ continues the standard of coverage that Workman brought to the Valley Record.
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