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Eastern senior athletes adjust to COVID-19 pandemic

Students express disappointment, hope for a final spring season

  • 4 min to read

STAYING ACTIVE — (Left to right) Matt Arcari practices with a batting tee. Asher Walden works on discus drills. Kaylee Weeks goes for a run in her neighborhood.

With Howard County schools out of session due to the COVID-19 pandemic and no return date set, spring sports also have been postponed, and senior athletes at Eastern High School are eager to compete in their final seasons.

Matt Arcari

A senior shortstop for the Comets baseball team, Matt Arcari described the current COVID-19 pandemic as a “bummer,” especially for seniors who have been looking forward to being the new captains on their squads and leading the teams to a sectional title or further, he said.

Having already signed to continue his baseball career at Franklin College, Arcari said he’s secure; however, if the high school season gets canceled, it could cause some problems, according to him.

“It’s going to be hard for me to go transition into baseball in college. It’s been so long since I’ve actually played in a real baseball game. The high school season is kind of that bridge in between. Now, there could be a potential where I go 15 months without playing a baseball game and then having to go straight into trying to play in college. It’s going to be a real challenge,” Arcari said.

Even though it has been several months since he’s played in a game, Arcari said he has been practicing nearly every day in his garage at home with a net and batting tee. Additionally, he has been lifting weights four to five times a week and attempting to eat well.

Since being isolated, Arcari said the quarantine has given him time to think about the things people for granted, and it has given him a better appreciation for the time he can spend with extended family, friends, and going to school.

“It sounds cliché, but not being able to go to school, not being able to see all your friends, some of your family, it’s really been hard. You really take some time to think about how blessed a lot of people are to be able to go to school and play sports and see their friends and see their family members,” Arcari said.

When asked if he felt cheated out of part of his senior year experience, Arcari said he’s disappointed with how it has affected his life but understands that the health of everyone is more important than whether he gets to play a sport.

Additionally, he said other than baseball, he’s most looking forward to spending time with his friends again.

Asher Walden

As a senior discus thrower for Eastern’s track and field team, Asher Walden said the postponement of the spring sports season was unfortunate but not as important as the wellbeing of the rest of the community and state.

Already a signee for the Purdue-Fort Wayne track and field team, Walden said he was lucky to have four more years ahead of him in the sport because some athletes were anticipating using this spring season to show themselves to potential colleges but now may not have the chance.

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Since tearing his ACL last football season, Walden said he’s been recovering from that for a while and was looking forward to being able to go all-out in a sport again. However, with Ivy Rehab open, he has been able to continue his therapy and workouts.

“I’ve been able to go to physical therapy a couple times a week at Ivy Rehab. They’ve kept me working out. Every day I’ll do stuff at home. I’ll get out and throw when I can, everywhere I can,” Walden said.

Trying to practice throwing while at home has been the most difficult part of the quarantine, according to Walden. With all the schools shutdown, he’s had to make compromises at home with drills in the driveway and garage.

“That’s probably the biggest challenge is just finding a way to stay active and mentally still be in it because of the situation. It seems like we’re not even going to have a season. It’s hard to stay motivated,” Walden said.

When asked if the shutdown has changed his mindset, Walden said it has opened his eyes to more important things in life and given him the ability to adapt when life changes quickly.

After the restrictions are lifted, Walden said he will spend time with his friends again, get back in the weight room, and train and throw whenever he wants.

Kaylee Weeks

A senior tennis player for the Lady Comets, Kaylee Weeks described the postponement of her season as “heartbreaking.” Not knowing if she will be able to compete in one more season, Weeks said she was grateful that she and her doubles partner, Morgan White, ended their junior season with All-State Honorable Mention awards.

To keep in shape and stay healthy, Weeks said she has been going for runs outside, as well as participating in workouts on YouTube and eating well in the hopes she’ll get a chance to play on the court again.

Being away from her teammates and community has been the hardest part of the quarantine, Weeks said. Additionally, she said it’s hard to think of her senior year not going as she always thought it would.

“I did a musical at my school, and I am very involved in school activities. I think it is sad knowing that you have some parts of your senior year that won’t be the same as you always hoped they would be. Hopefully we will get things like the senior prom and graduation still. I think those are big things people look forward to,” Weeks said.

While spending time at home, Weeks said a positive part of the shutdown was the ability for her to make better connections with her family and friends.

“I think I have been able to connect with my family and friends on a deeper level because the only way you can reach out to each other is through talking and texting. You don’t get to see each other. So, [I’m] making deeper connections,” Weeks said.

Weeks said she looks forward to returning to “normal life” and hopefully getting play tennis again with her teammates, even for a short amount of time.