Dear Texas Track and Field,
Seven days ago, the last hope for track and field was dashed with the University Interscholastic League (UIL) officially announcing that the remainder of the Spring sports seasons were terminated.
It's not what many parents, fans, coaches, and most athletes wanted to hear. However, it was the right call for the SPC, TAPPS, TCAL, and UIL officials to make. That doesn't make it easier to digest.
This is something I mentally put off and it's still something hard for me to think yet alone put into words. It is something many of you have already had to do within the last six weeks.
The 2019 track and field season was very good and in my opinion perhaps one of the best all around seasons in a long time. Every year, right when I think things can't possibly get any better, somehow they always do. The 2020 season was well on the way to being just as good as last season and as good as any. That is because of all of you.
When the season began, very few had an idea things would end this way. No season has ever ended like this. No senior class has ever had opportunity and memories that were rightfully theirs taken away like this through no fault of their own. This virus has done that to us and it has done it specifically to the class of 2020.
Like many of you, I participated in cross country and track and field. My high school seasons ended as they should have -- at the state meets. Unlike you, I knew exactly when it was coming, but I still wasn't prepared for it. It never hit me until the day of. Because I was so nervous, the emotion still didn't hit me until after my last race. That day, I ran the 4x800 Relay and the open 800m, but things still didn't register until after I ran the 4x400 Relay. My three fellow senior teammates and I had no words. We just looked at each other with a "what's next" type of look and lost feelings. Just thinking about it right now, it's hard not to shed a tear thinking about that moment many years later. But, at least I had it and I'll never forget it.
Unfortunately, for the class of 2020 you will never get that. You've been cheated of something that was rightfully yours no matter if your season was to end at district, area, regionals, or state. You deserved it. The last time getting on and off the team bus, you've had that, the last warm up and cool down of your high school career, you've also had that too. But, they were premature and it wasn't when it was supposed to come and you didn't get to embrace it.
However, your hard work, your dedication, and your responsibility of living up to the demands of one of the toughest sports to train for and in the toughest state to do it in will never be lost. I will never forget how you loved and how you took care of the sports I love and in the state I love.
This has been a difficult time for all of us, but it could have been much worse. The Coronavirus - COVID-19 is real. It is a dangerous threat and it is bigger than track and field. We must all do our part to ensure our world is safe and can address the needs necessary to have a future.
Yes, I wish the situation would have turned out another way. Not a day goes by I don't miss this track season. I get emails, texts, calls and all sorts of reminders of upset and sad parents and coaches for their 2020 seniors. I would love to have it back, but we can't.
As my Florida colleague said, "embrace that hurt. Feel the disappointment and then make the decision to choose how you will react. After all, it's not what happens, but your reaction to it that matters." She is absolutely right.
Like many other barriers and adverse situations you have already encountered in your young lives, you will get over this. I am confident you will take this hit and make a better you.
It may be a while before things get back to normal and it will be a new normal. However, I encourage you to be the best you.
Continue your athletic career in college if that's where the road leads you. Continue your education or learning and become productive people of society. You are future parents, leaders, teachers, coaches, doctors, lawyers, and business owners and I believe in all of you.
Winning championships, PRs, and physical gains are part of what you have trained for, but there is more to be gained from the season you lost. The 2020 seniors are the ones it happened to and I believe it's because you all are the ones who can handle it.
I miss you all and I will see you soon. I am grateful and blessed to be the editor of MileSplit's Texas site and that is because of athletes like the 2020 seniors.
Although the two words aren't voiced often enough, they should be, THANK YOU!
Texas MileSplit Editor - William Grundy