By: Natalie Eaton
This school year certainly has been different, especially for student-athletes here at Jenks. With abrupt distance learning switches, cancellations, and contact tracing, it has been challenging for many athletes to remain positive.
Last March, when COVID hit, sports were abruptly canceled and seasons were devastatingly cut short, leaving athletes wondering if they would ever get the chance to have another season. Luckily, Jenks decided to reopen, but with strict COVID mask mandates and contact tracing.
Jenks senior and softball player, Emma Vickrey, had her season unfortunately cut short last March due to the pandemic. During the fall season, Vickrey’s team got to play a whole season of fastpitch, but once spring came around, they only played three games of slow pitch before their season ended.
It has not been any easier for Vickrey, since the new rules and COVID precautions have shut her out from her sport. One of the biggest challenges for her was missing the most important games of her season.
“I was sent home for two weeks due to contact tracing, and ended up missing 15 games during that time,” says Vickrey. “Not only was it hard for me to just sit and watch from home, but it was hard for my team.”
According to Vickrey, many of the quarantines really made setbacks for the Jenks softball team. She believes that if the team had won a majority of the games, they could have hosted the regional tournament at home.
Luckily, Jenks softball did end up winning the regional tournament against Broken Arrow. Vickrey has also committed to play softball at Tulsa University.
Contact tracing has certainly been a struggle, especially for senior swimmer, Jasmine Rau. After being sent home twice, Rau has had to figure out ways to maintain her endurace and stay fit while being away from her team.
“I was quarantined twice this year both times right before two championship meets,” says Rau. “The first time I was able to swim at the YMCA pool and train separately from the team but the second time the only way I could stay in shape was running around my neighborhood.”
Rau noted that it was frustrating to be tested negative and not being allowed to come back and swim with her team. Things got even worse when her brother tested positive for Covid, which resulted in Rau being gone for another two weeks.
“It was hard to stay mentally strong at that point,” says Rau. “I tested negative but wasn’t able to come back so I had to train on my own and stay in shape at home which is hard to do for swimming.”
Around championship season, Rau made the decision to quarantine herself along with the entire swim team, in preparation. She said it was important to do this, not only for her team, but to motivate her to be better for her future at Southern Illinois University.
Jenks went on to win double 6A Championship wins, Girls and Boys.
Another senior who dealt with countless quarantines and distance learning issues this past year was Senior wrestler, Jonathan Kelvington. In every class he had, Kelvington always made sure he was in a corner or separated from everyone else during in-person learning. Unfortunately, he would still get sent home.
“Every time I got contact traced, I would get a negative test and try to come back as fast as I could,” says Kelvington. “When I did come back, I always had missing assignments, and it was even harder when teachers didn’t post stuff when you needed it, it was a pain.”
Kelvington’s love for his sport did not stop him. Since this was his last chance in his career to wrestle, quarantining for his sport was the best option for him.
In the end, Kelvington placed 6th at the 6A East Regional tournament, ending his career on a high note.
Athletes at Jenks are continuing to work hard and push through this year, and with spring sports starting, the Torch wishes all of the teams the best of luck!