The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has suspended high school spring sports nationwide. While the situation has changed an expected season, the community is still in full support of Franklin-Simpson High School’s student athletes.
Last Wednesday night at 8 p.m., the lights were turned on at Greg Shelton Field, James “Shadetree” Mathews Stadium and the Soccer and Softball Complex for 20 minutes and 20 seconds for the community to drive by and salute Franklin-Simpson High School athletics.
With spring sports still on hold with no return date scheduled, this was a gesture to honor Franklin-Simpson’s spring sports’ student-athletes.
“The idea came about from Chris Decker at South Warren,” Wildcats’ Athletics Director and baseball coach Matt Wilhite said. “I believe Decker saw it from some high school in Minnesota. He then shot an email out to all of the Athletic Directors in our 4th Region and asked what we thought about doing it together. Of course, everyone was on board. We are always about doing things for our student-athletes, especially our student-athletes in the 4th Region. Not only was it our Region but you saw many other high schools from surrounding regions as well buy into it. If you looked at social media last night it was an outstanding display of support from all communities of the 4th Region.”
The community went above and beyond to show support as many of them drove in their cars blaring their car horns and flashing their lights in honor of the spring sports student-athletes.
“It was a great turnout here and it was great all over the region from what I have been hearing,” Lady Cats’ softball head coach Todd Caudill said. “Great to see all those cars, honking their horns and made the seniors feel good and that was the main thing. Hate it for all of them especially our seniors. We honored our only senior, Danyelle Like, by painting her number 25 on the field. She has improved her game by putting in a lot of hard work. She has been a great leader for us. She has helped make us a better team. She does anything you ask. her bat has gotten better over the winter and just really hate it for her. Tough situation for not only her but for everybody but the celebration helped pad that wound down some.”
“I was floored at the number of people who showed up last night,” Wilhite said. “I think if we would have left the lights on more than 20 minutes and 20 seconds that we might not have left there last night! The community of Franklin-Simpson always rallies behind one another in times like these!”
Superintendent of Simpson County Schools Tim Schlosser expressed that the senior class of 2020 spring along with the sports student-athletes should be recognized as well as they too are missing out on their final days as a Franklin-Simpson high school student.
“I think it was a great way to begin to recognize the Class of 2020,” Schlosser said. “These kids have heard their entire life these are the best times in your life and you should enjoy it. Then we have a worldwide pandemic and the last three months of their senior year is flipped completely upside down. This community has always rallied around the youth and this will be no different. We will continue to recognize and honor these seniors because they deserve it and it is the right thing to do. We will have to be creative and it will probably look different than in years past but it will happen. We love the Class of 2020! #1FS.”
Caudill and Wilhite stay in constant contact with their players as they keep everyone’s spirits up and still have them preparing in case the season to play baseball and softball can still be played.
“We meet once a week on Zoom,” Caudill said. “Jenna Curtis got that together for us and we meet, have devotional time and just keep up with how things are going for one another. We find out what is going on in each others’ lives a bit. It is great to see their faces and talk for a little bit. That’s the one thing we miss and that is being around each other. We hate not being around together. Thank goodness for technology so that we can be together, even though it is not the same as we would have during a normal season.”
“I stay in contact with my boys through text messaging and Zoom. I send them tweets from Twitter on different drills to work on things, and I stay on them constantly about staying in shape, because if we get to come back and play it will be jumping right back into it,” Wilhite said. “I think the season can be salvaged no doubt. Now, what that looks like I don’t know. Whether it’s only playing a district championship, or district and region but no state championship I don’t know! I honestly think if we were to get back and even if there wasn’t any championship of any sort that you would be salvaging the season at this point. Any chance for these boys to get on the field at this point would be special for everyone.”
The teams hope that their season can be salvaged in one way or another once the COVID 19 coronavirus pandemic has been lifted.
“We talked about that in our meetings and I think it has made them slow down and appreciate it,” Caudill said. “Just take a step back and appreciate the process, the teammates and not to worry so much about a situational at bat or pitching and defensive situation. Just stay focused on the bigger part of the game but just enjoy the process and the moments, no matter if they are good or bad.”
“It would be absolutely devastating, especially for these seniors if they don’t get to play,” Wilhite said. “We put in a lot of hard work these past months. At times it was a struggle, but these guys stayed the course and you could see us getting better and better every day. We got to get one scrimmage in before the season was stopped, and these boys looked outstanding. I think that’s the most disappointing part of this is we got a taste of what we would be like and now we don’t know if we will get to build off that or not. But, in the scheme of all of this, the overall health of everyone is more important and valuable right now than sports.”
This celebration was held for all 17 schools in the 4th Region, including Franklin-Simpson, Logan County, Russellville and Todd County Central from the 13th District; Bowling Green, Greenwood, South Warren, Warren Central and Warren East from the 14th District; Allen County-Scottsville, Barren County, Glasgow and Monroe County from the 15th District and Clinton County, Cumberland County, Metcalfe County and Russell County from the 16th District with each school putting their own personal touch on how to honor their spring sports student-athletes.