Half a Season, Half a Heart


Macy Taylor

Senior Maddie Schneider is a captain on the girls’ varsity soccer team with aspirations of playing college soccer. Before the season was halted, a college scout was planning on attending the Sept. 18 game against Owatonna to possibly recruit her. “Missing the game against Owatonna will affect me because the scout was there to watch me play and see how I am as a player,” Schneider said. “If I met requirements, I would have a spot on that college team.”

Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Remain six feet apart from others whenever possible. If you feel sick, stay home. 

These statements are all included among the many guidelines and recommendations that have been provided to the people of the world from the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. These instructions came from the highly educated doctors and scientists from the Centers for Disease Control. There is even a mandate in Minnesota that requires citizens to wear a mask when entering a public building. But, despite all of the helpful suggestions from expert physicians and epidemiologists, the cases in Freeborn County are beginning to rise. 

According to ABC 6 News, 25 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Freeborn County on Sept. 16. Then, on Sept. 19, News Break reported that there had been an increase in that number by 15. According to the Albert Lea Area Schools website, there are currently 14 lab confirmed cases at Albert Lea Area Schools. Due to this increase, the high school has elected to voluntarily shift to virtual hybrid for a one week period. 

As a student athlete, this transition has affected me in more than one way. Instead of going to school in-person two days a week, I stay home and do my schoolwork completely virtually. Not much has changed in that area of my life. On the other hand, as an athlete, my life has turned upside-down. I have been left feeling helpless and wondering what I am supposed to do.

Since the end of our 2019 season, I, like many other athletes have spent countless hours working to become a better player for my junior year. I was at the gym nearly every day and sometimes twice a day getting my workouts in. I frequently dragged my family and friends to the track and stadium field with me to work on soccer-specific skills and conditioning. I ran myself ragged training for this season, and when I felt like quitting in the middle of a workout, I told myself, “It’ll be worth it during the season,” or “You’re getting better for this season.” I came into this fall season in the best physical shape that I have been in, ready to play at what I would consider to be near my peak level. Unfortunately, both my team and I were met with heartbreak when we were given the news of our season’s temporary postponement. 

When I arrived at practice, I saw the sorrow painted on my teammates’ faces. The tough, strong, resilient seniors that I have looked up to for years were teary-eyed as they grieved the partial, and potentially total, loss of a season that had only just begun. The fall season had already been shortened due to COVID-19. According to the Minnesota State High School league COVID-19 restrictions, teams had to cut down the number of competitions by 30%. For us, that meant going from competing 16 times down to 11. Losing 3 more games feels like quite a blow. This postponement means that at the most, we will only get to play 8 games, which is a 50% reduction from a typical season. Though we may only end up missing out on a few games, the frustration of that loss has and will continue to impact all of our fall athletes. I am hopeful that our teams will be able to return to play after a week of separation, but the upward trend regarding the number of cases in Freeborn County doesn’t inspire optimism.

I want things to return to normal. What this week has shown me is that no team, school or community is exempt from the effects of COVID-19. Our actions impact others. Amid a dangerous, deadly pandemic, it is our moral responsibility to be careful and cautious when making decisions that concern not only our own health, but the health of others.