EDITOR’S NOTE: In the “Senior Spotlight,” The Durango Herald will publish personal stories from athletes, coaches and teams affected by the cancellation of spring sports in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. To share a story, email sports editor John Livingston at email@example.com.I approached the beginning of the 2020 high school girls soccer season with some skepticism but mostly excitement for the opportunities that were ahead of me.
After not playing my sophomore year, I was nervous to step back onto the field, feeling anxious for the skills I hadn’t used for two years and to play with girls who I hadn’t talked to in what seemed like a lifetime. However, my anxieties seemingly vanished as soon as I kicked that ball again and was instantly reunited with a group of friends and a game that had my adrenaline soaring.
After tryouts, I was ecstatic to be playing on the varsity team with not only my sister, but with a great group of people and a coach like I had never had before - one who was caring, fun, competitive and approachable - someone who could really make a team out of the DHS girls soccer program.
The first sign of our dissipating world was the postponement of our first game in Grand Junction, which would mark our first attempt as a team to define our skills and our spirit. At first I, like many others, probably thought of the postponement as an extended spring break vacation, one more week to catch up on sleep and homework, one more week away from the dramas of high school. But, as we well know, that week turned into the month of March, then the month of April, and sadly, the month of May as well.
I count myself as one of the lucky ones in this situation, as I was a junior in the midst of her spring semester, worrying nonstop about AP Exams, the upcoming SAT in early May and the stresses of leaving my year strong so I could start my path to college. The absence of a few months of school came, at first, like a blessing in disguise, giving me time to complete all that I needed to.
But in those never ending hours of self isolation came a feeling of remorse for all that had been lost, especially the soccer season that I was fortunate to take part in. I was left grieving for the seniors - not only on my team but in my classes and in the school as a whole - who were robbed of their final months of high school glory, those last few months that we had all seemingly taken for granted. The seniors of the soccer team were missing their last moments of fame, their last moments of sprinting down the field, of saving that goal, of scoring that winning point.
If anything, this period of time has taught me to empathize with a greater strength than ever before. There are millions around the world fighting to survive, millions scrounging for masks and risking their lives to even step foot inside a grocery store. There are millions of elderly citizens scared to see their families at the risk of death. And there are millions of students isolated from their worlds of lockers and homework and friends and sports that they’ve only just realized how much those seemingly mundane ideas mean to them.
Luckily, being part of a team means fighting through the bad times together, empathizing for each other and not taking our time together for granted. Our coach, Melissa Halonen, recognized the importance of being a team in this testing time, and, like every other person willing to adapt, set up a weekly Zoom meeting. These meetings gave us not only a sense of normalcy, but helped us to experience the unexpected event that has taken over our world together and to make the most out of it. Weekly workouts, TikTok challenges and a farewell to the seniors occupied our time on those Zooms and truly let us be a team once again.
As the future is still as unclear as our present, we can only hope that our circumstances will change and we can occupy our beloved lives once again. But as this uncertainty can seem almost overpowering, it is important to remember that we are all living through this, almost as a team. And as a team, we have the power and the strength to overcome any challenge that we face together.
Chloe Ragsdale is a Durango High School girls soccer player who had her junior season canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.