The traditional Senior Night, like so many other signifiers of a high school sports season, never came for Salamanca’s spring teams. But the Warriors’ spring seniors got their recognition in the form of a video on Wednesday released by the school district.
The 52-minute video published to YouTube features messages from coaches of Salamanca’s spring varsity sports teams (golf, boys and girls lacrosse, boys and girls track and field, boys tennis, baseball and softball), and the athletes themselves.
Coaches reflected on the lost season and the accomplishments of their seniors.
“It's a little frustrating to have it all end this way, I know with golf we spend a lot of time together in the van and afterwards having some meals, dinners after our matches,” golf coach Gene Jankowski said. “That's certainly one of the things I look forward to the most and we miss that for all the seniors. I know this is not the way I envisioned you going out.”
The athletes spoke on many traditional Senior Night topics, including thanking their families, stating their future plans and favorite memories, along with discussing how the COVID-19 sports cancelation affected them and offering advice to underclassmen.
“Make every moment count, especially in sports, because you don't know when anything is going to be taken away from you,” said Justin Blakesslee, who was set to play lacrosse and golf this year.
“It's difficult, especially related to schoolwork,” he added of the canceled sports season. “It's hard to maintain an academic drive without the help of sports because for a lot of kids including myself, because sports really helps you leave it all out on the field and escape stress.”
Multi-sport spring athletes included Blakesslee, Aly Hill (lacrosse and track), Holly McGonigle (lacrosse and track) and Jazlynn Snyder (lacrosse and track).
Some teams looked forward to making competing for titles, or showing their improvement this spring.
“We were coming back much improved looking forward to a great season,” baseball coach Michael Smith said.
Boys lacrosse coach Jamie Pierce said he hoped his team could win the Section 6 Class D title. Girls lacrosse coach Casey Cutting said she hoped her team would win a new league.
“We got put into a new league and were looking to do very, very good,” Aly Hill said. “We really wanted to win our league, so it (stinks) that we never had a chance to play. But I'm definitely going to come back to support. For the seniors for next year, don't take the time with your teammates and out in the field for granted. Once it's over, you can't go back and you don't want to have any regrets. So give all you've got and really spend time with your teammates because you'll miss them next year.”
Pierce recalled a moment the team got together after the first (and only) week of practice.
“When we did our first week, we got to the end of the week, got on a huddle, got our hands in and said, 'Let's take this opportunity like we're the only team practicing,'” Pierce said. “At that time March Madness had been canceled, the NBA had just suspended their season. Their heart was in it, we put the time and effort to get to where they wanted to get to to accomplish some of these goals.”
Seniors for girls lacrosse included Aly Hill, Nizhoni Kennedy, Holly McGonigle, Kaylyn Kawamura, Breena Kawamura, Jazlynn Snyder and Kylee Dowdy.
“My message to classmates and underclassmen: I really hope that everybody is doing well and I wish them good health and I hope that everybody can lift off after this,” Nizhoni Kennedy stated.
Boys lacrosse seniors included Jacob Rozler, Justin Blakessleee, Leo Capron, Ira Snyder, Aaron George and Carter Crane.
Baseball had five seniors: Jarrett McKenna, John Collingwood, Dylan Wheeler, Zayne Blacksnake and Jacob Yaworsky.
The track teams had six seniors: David Dixon, Jazlynn Snyder, Coby Ledsome, Holly McGonigle, Kohl Ambuske and Aly Hill.
Boys track and field coach Michelle Hill commended the track athletes for how well they’ve handled the bad news this spring.
“We're incredibly proud ... the way that you guys have handled losing so much in your senior year and how you've done that has made us smile and inspired us in so many ways in thinking about future seasons,” Hill noted.
Softball had three seniors this year in Emma Fiske, Jordan Ray and Kaihalla George.
Liam Long was the lone boys tennis senior and Blakesslee was the lone senior golfer.