Seniors Dealt Setback From Threat

Odessa, TX – With the official UIL announcement of its decision to halt school sports across Texas, many senior athletes at Permian High School have felt the affects almost immediately.  What started on foreign soil has made its way to not only disrupt professional leagues like the NBA, MLB, and NHL in the United States, but sports right here in Odessa.

As the health concerns have risen over the coronavirus (COVID-19), no one could be more disappointed in the cancellations than the Mojo boys and girls soccer teams.  Both qualified for the state playoffs this past week and were looking to end the regular season slate of district matches tomorrow in Amarillo against Tascosa.  The anticipated excitement of the Bi-District match sometime this weekend has now been replaced with dismay.

The track and field team is facing similar feelings. Their season is midway into the scheduled relays, with the District 2-6A qualifying meet coming on April 2-3.  That date destined to change, if not be completely scratched.

Cross country and track standout Joshua Garcia is taking it all in stride, “If this is the end for me at Permian, it’s been a hell of a run – literally and figuratively.  I feel the closure is affecting time with some of my friends. After high school, most of us will go our separate ways.” Garcia is hopeful but fears track season is done.  “I have a feeling the season won’t be re-open due to all collegiate and professional sports being completely canceled. However, the school year will continue on I believe.

The PHS boys and girls gymnastics teams have been preparing for the District 2-6A Championships that were supposed to be held on March 26-27 in Abilene. Many of the participating athletes have had high hopes of reaching the state meet. At best, those meets are now pending a reschedule, if not a total scratch.

Three-time state medalist and standout gymnast Bridgett Pando remains optimistic. “The classes being suspended has had a huge effect on a lot of seniors, in general, because we have put in hard work to get to walk the stage. It’s heartbreaking to think that we might not have the possibility of sharing that memory with our fellow classmates.” With the threat of the gymnastics season being cut short, she continued “My heart hurts for my teammates, knowing that they have put in endless amounts of hard work and dedication towards our main goal (state). Regardless of what happens from here on out, we will continue to push through and be ready for anything new that heads our way!

On the diamond, the softball and baseball teams were set to start district play this week. That too has now been scrubbed. The Lady Panthers were having a better than .500 season, while the Permian baseball program has been tearing teams up in pre-district tournaments. The Boyz in Black have won 13 of the 18 games played this year. Their season now looms with a huge question mark.  Head baseball coach Tate Criswell summarized it best, “I just hope and pray we get to resume play soon.” – a sentiment reverberating across West Texas and the state.

The suspension of classes has affecting more than just the “Spring athletes”. Mojo football captain Chase Stell has concerns of how many of these days are going to have to be made up. “The more time we are out of class will be just more time added at the end. Graduation and summer plans will have to be changed, as well. If we are offered online classes during all of this, I afraid a lot of people would struggle and their grades suffer.”  All-District Lady Panther basketball star Daysia Christian finds the disruption of school very upsetting.  “I thought we were going to be able to graduate on the original date and that’s probably not going to happen.  There’s just way too much going on now and it is overwhelming.”

Members from the state Regional finalist boys basketball team echoed their concerns of a longer school year pushing into the summer.  Guard Sammy Garcia says, “I feel like it’s cool to have this long spring break, but that just means we might have to deal with school being longer.  I was looking forward to graduating on time.”.  All-District guard Keyonta Johnson is not only concerned about the school year, but the global status as well, “The world is going through some tragic things, and we need to stay strong and hold each other together.”  Nakavieon White, another All-District selection, shared his concern on a larger scale, “It’s crazy, but I think we can get through it all together.”

I do feel bad for the Class of 2020 spring athletes.  Their young sports careers (like many before them) were built on hard work, dedication, and the anticipation of their milestone “senior year”.  And for that, I am so sorry that theirs will be much different than many before them.  For this group, they (and their coaches, parents, and teammates) can only speculate what they would have accomplished.   As we all eventually find out, the best thing they can do is – take a breath, pick themselves back up, and continue forward for we know not what tomorrow brings.

It is encouraging and I’m so proud of these young men and women from Permian for the mature answers that were given.  We will get past this, and after listening to the responses from these leaders of tomorrow, the future of our country and community is in very capable hands.  Here’s to April being the first step in that direction and a return to some form of normalcy to the Permian Basin, state of Texas, and in America!

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