Photo used with permission of Ian Bowron.
The coronavirus has impacted many schools locally, nationally, and globally, with several schools switching to virtual lessons to protect the health and safety of students and staff. School sports have also been impacted by the coronavirus, with all Indiana high schools cancelling their 2020 spring sports seasons and following social distancing guidelines during their 2020 fall sports seasons.
With fall sports being played, the IHSAA has mandated certain regulations, such as social distancing and wearing masks at practices and on the sidelines. This helps ensure the safety of athletes, coaches and fans. While all athletes have to adapt to these irregularities, seniors also have the condition of it being their final season. Even with these regulations, coaches wanted to make sure that their seniors received recognition for their final season. As a result, most coaches decided to move their senior night to earlier in the season.
Senior nights typically happen towards the end of September or the beginning of October, but due to the coronavirus and fear that their season may be cut short, most fall sports teams have decided to move their senior nights to the end of August or the beginning of September.
“I was happy senior night was moved up,” senior soccer player Simon Mayer said. “There was no guarantee our season would continue. I wanted to be able to celebrate it to some extent.”
While athletes were excited to have a senior night, many also think that the energy was different. Senior football player Caleb Gates says that the biggest change to the football senior night was the lack of fans there to celebrate the seniors.
“It kind of sucks not having fans in the stands to cheer you on,” Gates said. “It just feels different.”
Even though teams were still able to have a senior night, they were different than usual years. Mayer and Gates both said that they were unable to participate in some traditions due to the coronavirus, such as soccer players signing a ball and football players being recognized in front of several of their peers and their families.
“In the past, it’s been cool to recognize the seniors, especially the ones that don’t always play as much,” Gates said. “This year, it kind of just became another game.”
Although fall sport athletes have had to work through the changes this season has brought, many of them were still excited to recognize the seniors on their team.
“I think most of us were just grateful to be playing, so the ability to even have a senior night was fun,” Mayer said.