Sadness, frustration and anger are just a few of the emotions felt by high school players, coaches and fans after California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) officials announced April 3 that the rest of the 2020 spring sports season has been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Athletes competing in baseball, softball, swimming, track and field, boys golf, boys volleyball and boys tennis saw their seasons come to an early end with the announcement that all regular and postseason games will not take place.
“The CIF does not see an avenue for the spring sports season to continue,” said CIF Executive Director Ron Nocetti. “We understand this is disappointing for everyone involved in education based-athletics and empathize with our student-athletes and all who are impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.”
Chino High softball player Milaysia Ochoa, a senior signed to Iowa State University, was among those saddened by the announcement, saying she wishes the season didn’t have to end this way.
“This COVID-19 disaster has ruined our senior years,” she said. “All the awards we were going to earn. All the memories we were going to live are all gone. All the patches that my jacket is missing out on now.”
Her teammate Brianna Juarez echoed those comments.
“The year of 2020 was suppose to be an unforgettable year for me,” Brianna tend my senior prom, graduate with all my fellow classmates and most importantly, play my senior year of softball.”
She added that she looked forward to having a senior night with her Chino High softball team and it breaks her heart she’ll never get to play another game with her teammates.
“They are my softball sisters. Never take playing the game you love for granted because you really don’t know when your last game will be, so always play like it’s your last,” Brianna said.
Ayala High baseball coach Chris Vogt posted a tribute letter to his three seniors and all members on this year’s Bulldogs team, which was ranked seventh in the nation on maxpreps.com when the season abruptly ended.
“I am so sorry to all of the members of this team that they did not get to enjoy the season after months of work,” he wrote. “I am crushed for the senior class that will not be able to finish what you have started. I wish our last goodbye could have come on the field rather than through an email.”
His three seniors— Gil Duran, Travis Hobbensiefken and Sean McLeod— received special praise in the letter.
“I want to say from the bottom of my heart... Thank You Seniors! You guys have done more for this program than you will ever know. Our banquet has been cancelled, but we will do something on the field when this has passed,” Coach Vogt wrote.
Don Lugo High track and field athlete Ariana Serrano said when she heard the news her season was cancelled, she was devastated.
“Through the first weeks of being restricted from school, I stayed optimistic that I’ll be able to compete again,” she said. “One day, I ran into both of my coaches at school after working out and they both said ‘it’s sad to say but the season is over.’ I was extremely sad knowing that I couldn’t finish my final year.”
She was hoping to earn her first trip to the CIF-Southern Section postseason after not competing last year because of a broken wrist.
“To make matters worse, I won’t be able to run with my twin sister (Briana) in our last year. We were in the 4x100 team together since sophomore year,” Ariana said. “She started the race and I would finish. I will no longer be able to create memorable memories with her or any of my teammates.”
Briana said although she can’t compete this year, she plans on attending track meets at Don Lugo next season to cheer on her returning teammates.
“I also plan to help them train if they need any help,” Briana said. “I will continue training, although I am not sure if I will be running in track.”
Connor Burns, a varsity baseball player at Don Lugo who signed with Long Beach State University, said his team set a goal of playing in the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 baseball title game next month at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
“This was what we worked for and strive for all year long and sadly this opportunity will not be handed to the seniors again,” Connor said. “However, the fact that this is the last time we will ever play with each other indefinitely hit the team harder. This group of seniors, as well as the rest of the squad, we’re guys that I grew strong friendships with all thanks to the passion we shared for the game.”
Ontario Christian High is honoring is senior student-athletes with photo tributes being posted daily using the hashtag “Senior Strong.”
Students honored so far are Eli Stool, Ryan Poling, Ryan Mendez and Tyler Sutton, (baseball), Justen Iglesias and Lawrence Aboukhalil (boys’ volleyball), Aaron Gaudy, Nate Lozano, Trent Englebrecht and Shaylan Macera (track and field), Isaac Liang and John McBrearty (boys’ golf), Sierra Banuelos and Kaitlyn Hawkins (softball).