Coronavirus has shut down the world. It is impacting each and every one of us in a way generations have never experienced before. One group that is uniquely effected in all of this is the prep senior spring athletes, who had their season cut short right in the middle of it. No more competition, no run at a championship and no more memories to be made.
I spoke with Seth Polansky, the Sports Information Coordinator with the AIA (Arizona Interscholastic Association), about the season shut down and how coaches and players have been reacting.
“They were expecting the complete shutdown after the second time [Governor Doug Ducey] pushed back the timeline for return to school,” Polansky explained. “[We’ve] seen a lot of empathy go out to the seniors that have lost their season.”
One of the teams that was in the midst of becoming the number one team in the nation, according to Max Preps, was the defending 6A State Champions and baseball power house, Hamilton Huskies.
“I expected it,” Head Baseball Coach, Mike Woods told sports360az.com. “It’s the right thing to do, but it still hurt. It closed the door on our hope and reality set in.”
Coach Woods has been a part of Hamilton since they opened their doors. He has been the baseball coach for 22 years. He has lead the Huskies to seven State Championships.
As for the 2020 championship spot on websites, it will say “No Tournament.” Hamilton senior outfielder Michael Brueser, who had helped the Huskies storm out to an 8-0 record to start the season didn’t mince words on the canceled season.
“It’s rough,” he said. “It kind of sucks.. when it officially happened it was like a knife in the back…never playing high school baseball again.”
Brueser, set to graduate in 2020, was aiming for his third state championship ring. He has played varsity all four years.
Michael wasn’t the first Brueser to be a Husky state champion. His older brother Nick won three state titles while attending Hamilton and one of those titles he got to share with his younger brother, Michael, who was just a freshman at the time.
Now, Nick plays for Stanford and will face off against his brother, who is set to play for ASU next season.
Brueser’s in the Pac-12, beating up on the same conference pitching.
“Winning the state championship together is one of the coolest experiences I have ever had with him,” said the younger Brueser, who then went to express how not getting a chance at his third ring feels.”It’s too bad because it’s a family thing, too. My brother has three. He won three when he was there. It was a competition thing where I wanted to catch him and tie him.”
The chance at a third ring in high school may have been cut short, but now the talents of Michael take on the big stage for Division 1 baseball as an Arizona State Sun Devil.
This pandemic has been hard on everyone, but especially in these tough times, we have to remain positive and as Coach Woods told me, “We all know this is bigger than baseball.”
Coach Woods is certainly not wrong. Our hearts go out to all of those athletes who lost their senior season. Not only did they lose the chance to compete, to show they are the best, but they also lost lifelong memories as they finished their high school careers.