One of the greatest challenges in life is learning how to handle unpredictable moments. But no one saw anything like this coming.
The COVID-19 pandemic upended seemingly all aspects of everyday life and made us rethink and reframe daily routines, activities, and communication.
It was a difficult transition for everyone, but especially for students. Going from normal, in-person classes with friends at your side to sitting in front of a computer screen at home was a transition that hurt like no other.
When you’re young and live through socializing face-to-face, this upheaval was devastating. The fallout from this sudden change for high schoolers was enormous. Zoom calls became the new classrooms, and it became more difficult to thrive academically without the simplicity of being in person.
Students couldn’t experience the beloved traditions of high school, like prom and spring concerts. And so many hard-working spring athletes, who spent their childhoods working to perfect their game for a much-anticipated high school season, had their opportunities suddenly snatched away.
But after suffering any setback that ruins our plans, we don’t just sit down. We get back up and power through.
During the summer, the uncertainty of a high school fall sports season filled the air, a privilege that we all took for granted before 2020. But as we spoke for weeks and months on the LowCoSports Lowdown podcast, Justin Jarrett and I both agreed that there may be too many hurdles to climb in order to complete a season or even get one off the ground.
With cases rising in the peak of July with no slowdown in sight, it was certainly looking like the fall athletes would be locked out as well, and with a second wave nearly guaranteed in the winter, we thought we could be in the dark for the foreseeable future.
But we also knew how much sports and the life lessons of playing them do for our young people and how hard they’ve worked to fulfill their dreams. If our leaders could find any way to pull this off safely, they had to try it.
Over the summer, we found out through mask-wearing, social distancing, and other preventative techniques, there was a way to get it done. But if we made one wrong move, it all could come crashing down.
So as we approached the moment of truth at the end of the summer, our Hilton Head Island High School intern and Seahawk volleyball captain Brooke Simons penned a letter to fellow student-athletes. Along with Seahawk quarterback Sam Summa, Simons urged her fellow teammates and rivals that if we all come together and mitigate the spread, we can achieve that fall season we’re all hoping for.
Brooke put her words to action, and not only did she pull off a full senior season, but she helped lead her Seahawks to an unforgettable state championship. Through her amazing work advocating mask-wearing on and off the court and leading her squad through the thick and thin that the fall of 2020 presented, Brooke and her team accomplished something unimaginable just a few months ago.
She set the example for all of us on how to make the best of a difficult situation and pull through. No matter what obstacles Brooke will face in the years ahead, she’ll have all the tools to come out victorious on the other side.
This last year has been a puzzle that we never thought we’d have to face in our lifetimes. We’ve all had to make tough sacrifices in our lives that we didn’t plan for, but we will be infinitely stronger because of what we’ve learned.
Our healthcare workers, scientists, first responders, teachers, grocery store workers, and students like Brooke have inspired us all, proving that even the toughest challenges can be overcome if we believe in our end goals and put in the effort to get there.
We might not look back fondly on 2020 and 2021. They were not what we asked for, but just imagine the upcoming joy of friends and neighbors hugging in the streets and the excitement of going to that first concert after so many months of waiting.
And with large-scale vaccine rollouts on the horizon, the finish line is now in sight. It was an unpredictable moment like no other, but the world will come out of this ultimate challenge stronger than ever before.
Wes Kerr is a graduate of Hilton Head Island High School and Davidson College. He reports on local sports for LowcoSports.com and is the producer and co-host of the LowcoSports Lowdown and Lowco Hoops Reports podcasts. Follow him on Twitter at @wkerr317.