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Put yourself in a high school student-athlete’s shoes for a minute.

You are out working your tail off during the summer, lifting weights, running, sprinting, working on your footwork and all the other traits that will lead you to success on the playing field.

Here’s the monkey wrench. You are doing it during a COVID-19 pandemic.

Right now, the coming high school fall sports season is in jeopardy.

Virginia has already canceled its fall sports. California has done the same, while Texas has pushed back the start by a month in hopes the pandemic will wind down. Pennsylvania has made the announcement it will follow guidelines presented by its governor and the Centers for Disease Control.

What will West Virginia do? Only athletic officials are in the know right now, and it isn’t clear what their intentions are at this point.

Your heart has to go out to the kids – especially those this past spring that lost a season – who have been putting in the work over the past few years in hopes of shining on the playing field as it is their time.

Will they play? Or won’t they play?

If you put yourself in the shoes of every one of those student-athletes and ask them if they want to play, my guess is that 99 percent of them will give you a definitive “yes.”

Many moons ago, I was one of those very student-athletes. I would have done anything to play a season. In fact, I played the last six games of the season with a shoulder that was so badly separated I could not pick up a 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola off a desk.

I wanted to play so bad that I ignored the pain and just went with it, not missing a game or a single play.

But there was no pandemic then. Life was normal for a high school kid – friends, gatherings, homework, video games and music. And plenty of ice and Tylenol for the shoulder was used.

Today’s kids are facing an unprecedented situation. Their sports season could be lost. No football games, no soccer matches, no cross country races, no volleyball matches, and no cheerleaders.

There are many thoughts and theories on COVID right now, and I am not going to address those in this space. People are free to believe what they want to believe. I respect that.

But if I were in the shoes of these kids I am not sure what I would be thinking right now. I know, for one, that I would be out there doing everything I could do to be a better teammate and player. Health-wise, given what I know now I am not sure what I would do.

My hope is the season is played. Who likes losing? I know I don’t.

My hope is that these kids get to experience the fine art of competition, learning leadership skills, learning how to play with others within a team, and learn about themselves. Sports will teach you plenty and there are a wealth of lessons to be learned.

While we won’t know the status of fall sports, or winter sports or spring sports or even collegiate and pro sports, as we navigate through this COVID world, I just hope the kids are not losing more time.

High school is supposed to be the best time of your life, and my hope is the COVID generation gets to experience everything I did all those years ago.

Brent Addleman is the publsiher for the Spirit of Jefferson. Reach him at 304-725-2046, ext. 223 or email brent@spiritofjefferson.com.

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