SUNAPEE — The notion that the grass is always greener at the baseball field proved especially true Tuesday afternoon when Sunapee Middle High School athletic department administration and family members gathered at Memorial Field to celebrate the achievements of senior student-athletes rightfully earned through relentless persistence on the field.
As the novel coronavirus pandemic became more prevalent in the U.S., effectively eliminating any potential for a spring sports season out of contention, there was a lot that didn’t sit right with Sunapee Athletic Director and men’s baseball head coach Tom Frederick. His major concern spawned from the realization that most of the institution’s student-athletes who compete in the warmer tailend months of the academic school year would be tagged out of any memorable senior athletic moments in the pursuit of shared championship aspirations.
So Frederick began planning with fellow administration officials, including varsity women’s softball coach Bonnie Cruz, to brainstorm a way to bring some positivity to an unfortunate situation. Ultimately it was decided that a spin on an annual tradition would be the best course of action.
In an effort to shine light on the school’s senior student-athlete population for all they have done representing Sunapee through local and statewide competition, Frederick and high school administration hosted a “Senior Night” on Tuesday, allowing nine of the Class of 2020’s 37 soon-to-be graduates to receive applause and uniforms to commemorate their careers.
Frederick opened the festivities with a special hand-written speech thanking the student-athletes for their unwavering dedication to their respective game and impeccable ability to represent the best of Sunapee.
“The Class of 2020 is facing much diversity and uncertainty as they come closer to graduation day,” said Frederick in his opening speech Tuesday afternoon. “Although I am sure that this is not what they imagined their senior year looking like as they started school in the fall, they have met this new challenge with flexibility, strength and grace. Most of our athletes realized that even though we would not have our season, they needed to continue to do their assignments and finish the year strong. We would like to recognize our senior athletes today and congratulate them for their sum of hard work over the last four years. We will never know the team and individual accolades we would have received, but I am certain that we are all better off for practicing, competing and knowing one another all of these years.”
The event also allowed for seniors to take photos alongside fellow teammates, coaches, family and custom decorations that ranged anywhere from cups spelling out their names to the scoreboard in left field displaying 20:20 for time and a score of 20-20.
“We just wanted to give [the student-athletes] a chance to be recognized for their play — most of them for four years,” Cruz said. “It’s hard for their season to end so abruptly by not having any type of closure so this is a nice way to show our appreciation and thank the parents too for all the years they have been to games supporting the kids, supporting the teams. [Senior Night] offers a bit of closure.”
For Cruz, the experience of traversing the athletic world amid the pandemic has undoubtedly been a challenge. While she keeps in touch with her athletes via email, it is difficult not to have in-person practices or meetings to connect in a more personable way. To keep spirits high, the team came together — virtually — to create a video collaboration of them throwing the ball to one another, a trend that many high school teams across the country have participated in.
Varsity softball player Ellie Frederick, who plans to carry on with sports at the University of New Haven in Connecticut this fall, was honored that the school and family members would go to such great lengths to give them such a memorable sendoff.
“It’s really special just to have everyone back together,” Ellie said. “Obviously we all wish we could be back on the field together but it’s really special that our parents were willing to go the extra mile for us. It’s nice just to be here all together one more time.”
As it gets time to leave Sunapee Middle High School, Ellie has greatly enjoyed her time representing her town on the field and this unconventional “Senior Night” will be one memory on the field that doesn’t involve playing.
“[Playing for Sunapee] has been amazing,” Ellie said. “Sunapee is such a great community and so to be able to play in a town like this is just awesome. There are a lot of people at every single game cheering you on, wishing the best for you. Little wins go big ways.”
Congratulations Sarah Frederick (Track Team), Maddie Blewitt (Track Team), Austin Davis (Baseball Team), Anthony Borelli (Baseball Team), Quinn Fair (Baseball Team), Darren Hulton (Baseball Team), Jordan Chappell (Baseball Team), Tess Palin (Softball Team) and Ellie Frederick (Softball Team).