Memories made. Memories lost.


Grace Pederson

“Put your mask over your nose!” Coach Kaitlyn Lawton yelled to Jr. Dani Perkins. This isn’t the usual critique athletes hear from their coach. Today, that’s the new norm.

   This year high school athletes are missing out on some of the best memories like Instructor Jenna Plewes had, but they still have the possibility to make memories like Instructors Paul Mcnitt and Livingston Garland had.

   In years past, athletes remember winning the district title, beating a team no one thought they could, bonding with their teammates and loved ones supporting every game. Those memories might look a lot different for students this year. Only a few weeks ago, it appeared that no one would be creating any memories this year, and that could still change.

   Teachers recall some of their favorite memories from high school sports and understand it won’t be the same for student-athletes this year. Memories like those are ones athletes don’t realize are gone until they don’t have them anymore. 

    “Still 0-0 near the end of the 1st half, we faced a 4th and long from our own 20-yard line.  Our coach called time-out, and we huddled up around him.  He surprised us with this question: ‘Do you guys want to fake the punt?’  Looking back, it just doesn’t make sense to run that play in that situation.  At that moment, however, he received a resounding ‘YES’ as the answer,” Instructor Paul Mcnitt shared his memory of an unforgettable game.

  Instructor Mcnitt said, “We fooled them.  The play resulted in an 80-yard touchdown.  The score remained 6-0 well into the 4th quarter.  The tension was high as one play could dramatically change the game.  With three minutes left, we pulled out another “hidden ball” play, and I scored on a 76-yard quarterback keep.  It was BY FAR, the most memorable moment in my high school athletic career.” A memory like this one is unforgettable. 

   It’s those moments where athletes this year don’t know if they will get to experience them. Not only is the focus wearing a mask and hoping for a season, but also the support. In games like Mcnitt described, it’s evident that the fans were there and cheering them on the whole game. Fans change the game and the energy completely. 

   Instructor Jenna Plewes shared one of her most vivid memories. Plewes said, “My favorite memory from high school sports was having an audience of grandmas in the community supporting me and the team. They all sat together in their own section wearing pins on their Zeeland gear with pictures of the athletes. They made it to every home game!” 

   Athletes now are limited to two fans per player. This makes it so grandparents cannot make it to every game. It is always fun knowing that people are there supporting and watching the players. The empty gym affects how players play and the fun memories that come from cheering after something good happens.

   There is no I in team. Instructor Livingston Garland’s high school memory really proves that. “I was a part of track and field for 4 years of my high school career. One of my favorite memories had to be trying to make it to state senior year and making it with my 4×4 team. Not only at state did we beat our time and take off 5 seconds but I also turned 18 on that day. After we went to a pizza place and celebrated with the team,” Garland said. 

   Multiple moments from that day made it one to never forget. Garland shows what seasons lead up to and what athletes work for. Making it to state usually takes hard work and a connected team.

   This year students do not know if they are going to have districts or will have the chance to compete in tournaments like that. They also have to be aware of social distancing and maybe cannot create those strong bonds with their teammates. Their main focus is going day by day and being grateful for when they get to play.

   Student-athletes today would never have planned for their seasons to look like this. To this day high school teachers still remember their favorite moment from high school sports because they are that special.

    Today, some athletes have the possibility of making memories and not others. Some of the best memories they could have had are already gone.