- Ansley Cestare is a high school junior and a softball player.
- Neither her nor her teammates knew that March 12 would be the end of their season, which got canceled due to the coronavirus.
- At first, she says, many spring athletes found themselves sitting in bed and scrolling through social media, lacking the motivation to continue practicing.
- But after adjusting to the new normal, Cestare has found the motivation to keep getting better during this time off.
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It was 4 PM on Thursday, March 12 and I stepped on the softball field, not knowing that it would be our last game of the season.
I’m Ansley Cestare, a junior and a varsity starting pitcher for Flagler Palm Coast High School Softball.
We took the lead and won 14-0 with our third shutout in a row. Winning that game created the first winning record that FPC softball has had in years, and we were ecstatic. We all went home and celebrated knowing that we created history. After seeing our team work together, we were excited to see how far we could go, how many shutouts we could get, and how good our defense and offense could work together to create a team that FPCHS hasn’t seen in a while. After this game, it was spring break.
For almost all high school athletes, this is where it got complicated. We waited to hear what was going to happen with the rest of our season. Some coaches took the lead and decided to end their seasons themselves, and some coaches, like mine … did not. When our coach didn’t end the season right away, it kept us hopeful that something would change. Which eventually felt worse when weeks later the FHSAA officially ended all spring sports.
This makes you think about how it affected every athlete. For me, I was down … I had hope for the season and I was bummed that we couldn’t go out there and show what a great season we could have had. What about the seniors? To think, there were seniors who had planned for scouts to come out to future games and who weren’t done with the recruiting process.
Some senior athletes would have had a different attitude going into games knowing the season was going to be cut short. Teagan Clayton, starting third base player for FPC softball, was one of our seniors, and she says that she would have gone into our last game differently: “I wish I would have had a more positive attitude at times and took the time to enjoy every moment of my senior season. I also feel like I took my time on the field for granted, which I really regret.”
As athletes, our high school careers took a big hit from COVID-19. Some ended completely, and others stopped right at the good part. We didn’t know where to go to practice, or even have anyone to practice with. The city had closed all local parks, fields, and gyms, and told us to stay at home. It’s not that hard to work out at home, but when you’re a part of a team sport, it’s difficult to do specific drills.
At this point, I struggled to find motivation to get up and go hit a bucket of balls, or throw with my dad. Everything had been moved online. This included going to class — now video calls — and turning in assignments. When you feel like everything is over, where do you find the motivation to get up and do it?
I later found out that I wasn’t the only one feeling this way, and that many athletes were too. For them, it was at first easier to wallow in bed with blankets and social media. But, after this all became our “new normal,” we began to find our ways out of it. Practicing in our backyards, finding open fields, or going on runs — now we don’t have an excuse to not be better the next time we step out there.
COVID-19 greatly impacted the lives of spring student athletes, whether it’s college or high school. But the sport is still what keeps us going — and looking forward to the next season.