One year after COVID shutdown, spring sports are back in action

Last spring, the graduating class of 2020 missed out on their spring senior seasons. Many teams at Fairmont found other ways to honor their student-athletes during the unimaginable circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo: @KFHSBaseball

Last spring, the graduating class of 2020 missed out on their spring senior seasons. Many teams at Fairmont found other ways to honor their student-athletes during the unimaginable circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tryouts were happening, teams were forming, practices and game plans were in place … And then COVID arrived.

Last spring, athletes and coaches at Fairmont High School were hit hard with the news that spring sports would not have a season.

After an abrupt stop to the 2020 winter sports post-season tournaments and several press releases from the Ohio High School Athletic Association, coaches and athletes waited for guidance.

Adrenna Hernandez, second-year head coach for the Firebirds girls’ lacrosse team, remembers the feeling all too well.

“I was devastated, as last spring was my first year as a head coach for the girls lacrosse team,” she said. “It was hard for me, but I was certainly more upset about the girls on my team missing out on a chance to play lacrosse for the first time or play lacrosse for their last time.”

Hernandez remembers a lot of her players crying because the news was so sudden. Her team had worked very hard getting through tryouts and preparing for a few scrimmages that weekend … then everything was cancelled.

Firebird track coach Stephen McDonald also recalls the moment when COVID cancelled their season.

“It was terrible to have our season cancelled.  We had 150 athletes on the track team working hard and excited to compete,” McDonald said. “I felt especially bad for the seniors who believed they had a season of high school sports left and wanted one last chance to be leaders, make their mark and show what they could do.”

Spring seasons are currently underway for the 2021 season, but many coaches and players will use the cancelled 2020 COVID season for reflection and reminders.

“I think that all parties have learned that each season is not promised to us and we must take things day by day. It has also taught all of us how much sports mean to us and what it can do for our overall well-being,” Hernandez said.

As the 2021 season approached and the season was said to be on, preparations and goals were put into place.

“My goals for this season are to help the team grow as players, as a team and as individuals. I would also love more students to gain more interest in lacrosse from speaking with their friends that are on the team, especially since we have several new players,” she said.

Hernandez notes that there are still unknowns this season as people are still contracting COVID and each facility they go to has different rules and regulations.

“We as a team worry if we will get cancelled or quarantine,” she said.

McDonald and the track program have faced some challenges early on with recruiting athletes who were online to run track, resulting in the freshman and sophomore numbers being very low compared to previous years. Despite some obstacles, the coaches are optimistic as the season progresses.

“So far the season is going great. The boys team has finished 3rd in each of our first big three invitationals and we have some standouts that have won their events,” McDonald said.

Firebird athletics have experienced challenges as of late, with several spring teams being shut down and quarantined for two weeks. Masks, protocols, travel and new guidelines are all new, yet becoming routine, for high school athletes and coaches everywhere.

“If following some extra rules and protocols keeps us safe and means we get to play, then that is what we will do because no one wants to miss out,” Hernandez said.

To follow Fairmont’s spring athletes, check out: https://kffirebirds.com/ and http://gwocsports.com/