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For high school athletes, it’s making the best of a bad situation

Things continue to spiral into uncertainty as Clinton (and the rest of the world at large) tries to continue forward and cling to some semblance of normalcy through this pandemic.

Change is hard on everyone, and unexpected, uncertain change is especially hard. There’s an expectation that change is, for some reason, easier on the young – that they’re less attached to their schedules and routines than everyone else. The small stories of youth affected by these unprecedented times understandably get lost between the titanic losses of adults that find themselves unemployed and struggling to pay their rent or feed their family and the myriad tales of death and grief, but young people are the adults of tomorrow and their losses, though small and insignificant to some adults, loom large in the minds of those they affect, and will continue to affect them going forward.

One of those affected youths is Nick Graham, a senior baseball player from Clinton High School who played pitcher and third base. Graham played football in the fall, his first year in that sport, but this was going to be his fourth year as a baseball player. Graham says it’s been hard.

“I thought we were going to do something great, even if the first three games didn’t show it. I felt like the end of the season would be our opportunity to do something great.

Graham says he’s had offers from colleges, but hasn’t signed with any of them yet. He’s also already decided on his major: biology with a minor in criminal justice.

“I have colleges looking at me, and I have offers, but I haven’t signed with anyone yet. At first I was really upset with the whole virus stuff and not being able to play, but I looked at it as motivation to work hard for my upcoming college career. I want to be the best I can be.”

Still, Graham, along with the rest of the team, is holding out hope that they’ll play again.

“Coach Stacy has us doing workouts at home. I don’t know if everyone’s doing it, but they really should to stay in shape. He’s also pushing us to do summer ball as well, but I don’t know if we’ll even be able to do that.”

Graham says he would be more than happy to play summer ball, if it’s offered.

This was also going to be Clinton’s first year with new baseball coach Rob Stacy, who, in his spring preview interview, was very excited about the team’s possibilities.

With cases continuing to double and social distancing being extended to the end of April, it’s difficult to imagine the Spring season resuming.

That means that, for so many athletes just like Graham, they won’t have a senior season, and even if summer baseball is played like normal – there are those who can’t play summer sports, and there’s sports without summer seasons.

It’s not losing one’s job, or fearing one won’t be able to feed their family, but it’s a loss to a lot of kids and teens across the county and the country – and it’s important to acknowledge that loss, even if, to many, it seems so small. To these kids, these seniors, some who have played for years before now, this was going to be their moment, their culmination of so much hard work. Undoubtedly, to them – it’s a big loss.