NOTE: This article was submitted by the Grady Sports Bureau, part of the sports media program at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.
With high schools across the nation being closed due to COVID-19, graduating student-athletes have been forced to reflect on what could have been their final chance to compete. At Blessed Trinity Catholic High School in Roswell, Georgia, senior runners on the track team are still coming to terms with their shortened athletic careers.
“The hardest thing for me to accept as a senior is that I ran my last race without even knowing it was my final time as a Blessed Trinity Titan,” senior runner Josh Fuller said. “If I could go back and race that day again, I would have remembered the moment better and pushed myself to my absolute max.”
Fuller will be attending school at Mississippi State University in the fall where he will attempt to join the school’s cross country and track team as a walk-on.
Fuller’s teammate, Jack Ganem, a senior track and field runner on the 4-x-400 meter relay team, expressed similar feelings of frustration.
“Our team was looking very strong and we had a good chance at making it to state.” Ganem said. “This chance is gone and it feels like our four years of six practices a week were almost for nothing.”
This was Ganem’s final chance to compete for a team as a runner. He will be attending Georgia Tech in the fall to study Industrial Engineering but will not be running there.
Ganem and Fuller’s head coach, Greg Johnson, reached out to the team with a heartfelt email apologizing to the seniors for the disappointment they must be feeling. Both Ganem and Fuller recognize the uncertainty they each face moving forward.
Fuller was in the midst of heavy mileage training with high intensity workouts approaching in hopes of lowering his times for recruitment standards before the season was canceled.
“With so much preparation coming off of a huge senior cross country season that put me on the college radar, my coach and I were certain I would get my chance to drop my track personal records rapidly like I had done for cross country.” Fuller said.
“I haven’t received an official offer from Mississippi State due to the season being over, but I’m not alone.”
Although the team is not allowed to have formal practices, Coach Johnson encourages his team to run on their own and still writes their training schedules. Through Zoom meetings they are able to discuss the training and how everyone is coping.
Fuller continues to run and train, using the uncertainty of the future as his motivation. Despite the circumstances, he is still trying to do what he loves.
“Being a high school athlete in the midst of this is a bit unfulfilling and sad. Every time I try to run on my own now it’s never the same. It seems 10 times harder without the support of my teammates.” Fuller said. “I’ll miss competing for Blessed Trinity and it’s sad to know I’ll never have that chance again.”