BLOOMFIELD, NJ-- Like many high school seniors, Katie Bretz can't help but think ahead to college, and a wonderful life ahead.
But, Bretz, a captain of the Bloomfield High softball team in 2020, is also hoping she'll get the chance to play shortstop for her beloved Bengals this spring.
"I'm staying positive," said Bretz. "It's not easy, but I'm really hopeful.
Bretz is a 3-sport athlete at Bloomfield HIgh. She was a standout volleyball player this past fall, leading the team with aces and second, in digs, before doing a good job with the BHS swim during the winter months. She was named a team captain, along with Lexi Corio and Mia Lopez, for the softball season. (Bretz and Corio are teammates on three varsity sports at Bloomfield)
The softball season was scheduled to include the usual trip to Florida, in March, for a week of practice and scrimmages. But just before the team was to leave, the coronavirus pandemic struck, and with it, the suspension of high school athletics, as well as formal classes at the high school.
"Missing out on the Florida trip was tough," she said. "I've been staying busy with school work, as well as keeping in shape for softball. I watch some television, as well. I'm a member of the National Honor Society, so we're doing some work with public safety."
With the powers of Google Classroom, the Bengals softball team has stayed in touch.
"We share videos of different softball skills," said Bretz. "It's important to stay in touch, and see how everyone is doing. When I get a chance, I do some hitting in my backyard, and some throwing. I also have my school work, on line, and that's worked out pretty well."
Bretz plays shortstop for the Bengals. She's also among the team's top hitters.
"Katie is a respectful, team-oriented player," said Bloomfield softball coach Bob Mayer. "She works well with the younger players and is an excellent captain. Katie, Lexie and Mia are all doing an excellent job, in a very different kind of season, of being leaders and keeping everyone upbeat."
Bretz's versatility on the softball field was also noted by Mayer.
"Last summer, she jumped in as our catcher," said Mayer. "For Katie, it's anything to help the team out. She plays summer ball, for a club team, and played as much as she could for our high school summer team.
"Katie's parents are wonderful. They've always been supportive of the softball program."
Bretz returned the respect for her coach.
"I've known Mr. Mayer for a long time," she said with a laugh. "He was my gym teacher, in elementary school from kindergarten through fourth grade. Mr. Mayer is an excellent coach, too."
The daughter of Jennifer and Scott Bretz, Katie plans to attend Salisbury University, in Maryland, starting this fall, where she'll continue playing softball. She has yet to decide on a major, but admits to liking courses in the science curriculum.
"They have me in mind as a middle infielder," she said. "I look forward to the challenge of playing at the next level, and the competitiveness that comes with earning a position. When I began to consider a college, Salisbury was one of the first schools I looked at. They were great to me during the entire process. I love the campus and am very excited about the opportunity.
"In the meantime, Bretz continues to keep her fingers crossed that the Bengals will get on the softball field this spring.
"We're all hoping," she said. "That's all we can do at this point. We'd love nothing more than to be playing. I talk to a lot of girls on some of the other high school teams, and they're anxious, too. This is definitely been an experience, going through this. I know it's been very hard for a lot of people."