Plant City-area seniors whose high school sports careers may have just ended abruptly deserve some recognition.
I can’t imagine what high school senior athletes must be going through right now.
This isn’t like a hurricane where we know we’re likely to only miss a handful of weeks if something hits, then get right back to action in the fall. We have no idea when we’re getting everything back to normal. For a lot of kids in our area and around the country, their last game’s already been played and they had no idea ahead of time. All they can do is try to stay sharp and in shape hoping that April 15 return date will stick. I hope the “curve” is flattened enough for that to happen.
If you watch ESPN, you’re probably aware of Scott Van Pelt’s “Senior Night.” If not, it’s a cross-platform package on Twitter, TV and ESPN.com honoring high school seniors who likely did just have their careers come to an early end. SVP shared their stories with his audience and gave the kids a great send-off. You can check it out online at espn.com/college-sports/story/_/id/28900304/best-scott-van-pelt-senior-night-twitter-thread.
I thought it was a great idea at the time and I think even more highly of it now. I know we haven’t gotten a full prep sports shutdown just yet, but there is a very real chance the county’s athletic department and the FHSAA will bring the spring 2020 season to a close and plan to start fall sports on time in August. Just in case that does happen, I have a favor to ask of you readers.
I want to give spring sports athletes from Durant, Plant City and Strawberry Crest their own “Senior Night.” Whether you’re a coach for their team, a teacher or athletic director at their school or maybe even an athlete yourself, I need your help to make that happen.
Check out the link above if you haven’t kept up with SVP’s show and you’ll get the idea of what I’m looking for. If you think your team at large deserves some recognition, please give me the rundown. If a senior on your team is as inspiring as Ethan Haskiel or is the “heartbeat” like Tommy Luce, let’s talk about them. While I know quite a few of you seniors at least a little bit, I don’t know the depth of all of your stories and how you all got where you are today. I’ll still want to do this even if the season does resume in April as planned, so no chat we have between now and my deadline — whatever that may be — will be wasted.
I am on board with the social distancing movement and wish to respect everyone’s personal space, so I’m not forcing anyone to meet with me in person. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get started.
As a side note, many of you know about the Tampa Bay Times’ string of 11 layoffs from last week. That included long-tenured reporters whose jobs I thought would be untouchable by now, like preps writers Rodney Page and Bob Putnam. They even let Craig Pittman go, which is one of the most insane things I’ve heard in a year full of non-stop insanity. All of those people who just got laid off did good work and deserve to get hired by someone else ASAP.
It also drives home the point that newspapers and other publications could use your support now more than ever. I know many of you in Plant City have a less-than-stellar opinion of the Times (I’ve been here almost seven years now, I’ve heard everything) but it’s still a newsroom full of real people like you and me working hard to keep you updated on the state, national and international levels. Their coronavirus coverage is currently free and available to all. They need your help. We hope you’ll stick with us for local coverage. When this virus finally passes and sports come back, I hope you’ll keep supporting us, the Times sports team (please, give them a reason to hire a preps team again) and local sports-focused outlets like 813Preps. If you want local sports to distract you from all the anxiety-inducing stuff life throws at you, we all can do that if you’ve got our backs.