As the corner was turning from the winter to spring sports season, athletes were anxious to resume where they left off from last year. This all changed when COVID-19 forced schools and, therefore the NJSIAA, to put everything on hold.
While many athletes are going on to play in college, this was unfortunately the last go at high school sports for some talented, upperclassmen athletes. Additionally, it would have been an opportunity for many underclassmen to get attention for their future careers has been lost.
Dylan Verschleiser, senior and three-year varsity baseball player was one of the players most impacted. His career had been derailed by injuries dating back to freshman year. However, doctors finally gave him the okay for his final hurrah, the spring baseball season.
Verschleiser said, “Baseball is my life, I really do not know what I’m going to do without it.
But Verschleiser is not the only senior who had a bad injury and was looking for a big time return in the senior season. Lacrosse star Valerie Diamond was poised for a strong season on the field coming back from an ACL tear last year.
Diamond, who will be attending Virginia Tech in the fall, said, “I was really looking forward to playing with my teammates, but most importantly friends, one last time together.”
Before knowing what the future would hold, Governor Phil Murphy’s announcements of short-term school closures, left athletes hopeful for a return to the Highlander playing grounds. But once he announced remote instruction would be in place for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year and all spring sports were canceled, many seniors saw their days as Highlander athletes come to an end.
The athletes aren’t the only ones going through the pains of a season lost. Coaches are feeling the loss. Kevin Fontana, assistant lacrosse coach, said he was “eager to get to work with a great group of kids.”
Athletes and coaches have dealt with issues large enough to affect seasons before. A tough loss or injury is a minor setback. But as any great player will tell you, it’s not how hard you get hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep going.
Governor Livingston has some fierce athletes who will push through these tough times and make their mark in their sport, whenever that chance will be.