A tribute to spring sports and their seniors

A tribute to spring sports and their seniors

Lauren Stanton, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Along with the closure of Kansas schools on March 17 came the official ending of the spring sports season. De Soto High School student athletes and coaches felt the impact of this decision and how it ended their season. 

Most spring sports are difficult to continue without having a place to practice or the correct equipment to use. The girls’ swim team cannot even practice on their own time unless they have a pool at home, which most people do not. Softball and baseball are difficult to practice without being around other people, but there are still exercises and drills the players can do by themselves to remain in shape and prepared for next season. Girls’ soccer and boys’ tennis can also run drills at home or go to the courts or fields that are open to play. Boys’ golf can potentially practice on their own time at the area’s open  golf courses. 

Based on The Green Pride’s conversations with coaches and athletes, it seems that each sport was set up for a successful season and had hopes of making it to State. 

Here is a tribute to each spring sport and their respective seniors. Here is what could have been: 

Track and Field

Track and field is one of the few spring sports that is lucky enough to be able to continue their practice individually. 

However, according to head coach Jack Sachse, since most USD 232 facilities are closed so “that does make it a bit difficult on our field athletes, hurdlers or pole vaulters.”

When the cancellation was first announced, athletes had many emotions and reactions. 

“It’s still a shocking thing because you wouldn’t expect the whole season to be thrown away but it was expected with everything that was happening,” said senior discus and shot put thrower Emily Fuhr. 

This difficult time is not only hard on the athletes, but on coaches as well. 

“It was disappointing and heartbreaking,” Sachse said. “As a coach, it’s taken most of that month to just process and wrap your head around that [the season] is over.”

Preparations for the spring 2020 track season began as early Dec. 1, 2019. These track and field athletes, along with many other spring sports, had been training for over four months before the season officially started. 

“Track is a sport that you train for all year, so even throughout the winter season I still have practice,” said senior track and field member Lane Hileman. “The hardest part is feeling like all of that work was lost. It [senior season] is supposed to be good with good last memories. It ended so abruptly and I think honestly that’s the hardest part because it was so sudden.”

It is also difficult for athletes like Fuhr, who participated in a winter sport and did not have the chance to join their spring sport for practice. 

“I was in basketball beforehand. I didn’t even get to start my spring sports season. It’s not fun,” Fuhr said. 

Seniors are obviously having a difficult time processing all of this. Nevertheless, no matter what grade an athlete is in, losing a season and dealing with the closure of school is difficult.

“I think that the hardest part is thinking about the athletes. I’m a coach so I’m going to have more seasons,” Sachse commented. “One season taken away, even if you’re a freshman, or sophomore or junior, it’s just really hard. The hardest part is thinking about all the athletes and what they are missing out on.” 

With the cancellation of the spring season, athletes do not have the chance to accomplish their goals they had planned. 

Fuhr, who won State in shot put and discus last year, was going to use this year to “hit different marks so [she] could go into college [Kansas State University] feeling a lot more confident.”

Hileman had different goals for this year’s season, more team-related and State focused. 

“I was looking forward to meeting the new people coming out for track, to seeing the freshmen and seeing how good our team was going to be,” Hileman said. “Some of our relay teams that I was on this year were looking really good for State. I think it was really disappointing to lose that.”

Sports at DHS are also uncertain for next year and how this cancelled season will impact future seasons. 

“I’ve never in my coaching career had a situation where athletes have taken a year off,” Sachse said. “One effect will be that more athletes come back next spring. It’ll be interesting to see athletically how people develop and whether competition levels are down.”
However, there are also positives that can come out of this situation.

“On the other hand, I think next year will be more meaningful for folks. Hopefully athletes will be so excited to compete that the two-year layoff won’t be as bad,” Sachse said. “Our seniors have a lot of exciting things coming up in the next two years of [their] lives. So be disappointed with the situation, but don’t let it be end all be all. There’s a lot of other good things coming up.”

Overall, this is a difficult time for students, coaches and athletes, especially those who are seniors. 

According to Sachse, we [DHS staff and coaches] miss the seniors and “hope they aren’t strangers. I hope that they come back either this summer or next year. Swing by and talk in person about the goodbyes we weren’t able to have in person this spring.”


Girls’ Soccer 

The girls’ soccer team was looking forward to a successful season filled with fun memories, laughter and maybe even a State title. 

Senior center-mid Maddy Mascareno described how difficult it was when she first realized she would not get to play high school soccer again. 

“It was very hard for me when I found out because … I thought I would have my senior year of high school to have closure with it [soccer]. Now I don’t get it and it’s really hard,” Mascareno said. “I miss having that last year with my teammates and making memories.”

According to head coach Jesse Smith, the whole situation is heartbreaking and the hardest part is “knowing that the seniors stepped off the field for the last time.” 

Another difficult aspect of this is what the underclassmen are missing out on. 

“The rest of the team is not getting a chance to play on a team with this senior class. They miss out getting to experience it with this group of girls,” Smith said.  

This group of senior girls was very special to Smith and brought a lot to the team.

“The senior class was committed to the team, and they led a lot of workouts we had. They were really upbeat and positive and really hard working so that atmosphere that they created for the team and the example for the underclassmen was pretty special,” Smith said. 

 Throughout conditioning and the first two weeks of practice, the team looked promising.  

  “I think this is one of our strongest years talent-wise so I think we could have gone very far and we were hoping to make it to State this year,” Mascareno said. 

Smith had similar aspirations and observations about the team. 

“We had just an awesome group. I was really excited everyday to go to practice, and all off-season I was really excited to get started working with this group. I was excited for the senior class to be leaders and have another successful year,” Smith said.

The goal for the team is always making an appearance at State, and this year the team had a good chance of accomplishing that goal. 

“[I] felt like this year’s team was positioned really well to do that [win State]. I really feel like this was one of the most talented teams that we’ve had,” Smith said. 

The girls do not have a chance to see just how far they would go this season. However, there are many happy memories from the season that the team will remember forever.

“[What I will miss most is] probably my teammates and going on bus rides and just dancing in the locker room and fun stuff we used to do,” Mascareno said. “My favorite memory would be our chant that we do before every game. We say ‘FSB,’ which is fun soccer bros.”

In the short time that this team was together, they made it count and enjoyed each other’s company. Smith shares a specific time when the group laughed together and truly bonded. 

“One of the best memories of this season and will probably be one for a while [was] during our boot camp day. A couple of the girls locked themselves into a locker that we didn’t have a combination to. There was about five or 10 minutes of panic before we were able to locate combinations and actually get them out. That was really funny,” Smith recounted.

As seniors reflect on their high school sports career, they have advice to pass on to the underclassmen.

“Don’t take your season for granted. Like it may suck that you have to run, but it’ll be worth it when you get to play like your whole year. Take advantage of it,” Mascareno advised. 

This is also a great time to thank all the coaches that impact athletes. 

“I’m thankful for everything they’ve brought to me. They have made me a harder working person, and I’m just thankful that I got to be involved in the program,” Mascareno said. 



The softball team was looking very promising this season in terms of winning games and becoming better players. 

“Our goal is always to win league [UKC] because that sets you up for a good seed for Regionals, but we always talk about working every day to be a good teammate to be a better softball player. That was our goal everyday to do something to make yourself a better teammate and softball player,” said head softball coach Junelle Woolery.

The players also felt good about this season and enjoyed the atmosphere of the team.

“This year I could feel it. Oh, I could feel it. We’re gonna have a winning season,” said senior catcher Delaney Lecluyse. “Being around these people, you can be more authentic and have fun. You have one big common goal, which is really nice, and the drive is there. Everybody wants to get better and wants to achieve.”

This group had been preparing for the season since this winter. 

“From the beginning, they had a certain intensity to them. I was excited. When it was time to work, they worked hard. They had a mission and weren’t afraid to work towards it,” Woolery said. 

The ending of a high school season causes various emotions to arise in athletes: grief, denial, anger and sadness. Lecluyse opened up about what she felt when she heard about the cancellation.  

“For a while it didn’t seem real. Then there was one night when I was like ‘oh wow, I’m not going to play softball anymore.’ I was crying … and really upset,” Lecluyse said. “It just feels like every time I go to pick up a softball I get sad. I haven’t cleaned out my softball bag or anything because I don’t want to think it’s real,” Lecluyse said. 

Lecluyse was looking forward to finishing her softball career with her teammates.

“These are my favorite people to play with. Now I don’t get to finish out my year with them. I didn’t get to finish out my softball career with them,” Lecluyse said. 

However, in this sad situation, Woolery remains positive and chooses to honor the time she did have with these seniors. 

“It stinks that they didn’t get to play their senior year, but I choose to focus on the three years we did get with them. What they did those three years will live on,” Woolery said. 

This group of seniors each brought something great to the team. 

“You have [senior] Jordan Diehl, who is fun loving, super athletic and fun to watch. You got K-hop [senior Kalie Hopkins] who is a little more intense. She [Hopkins] is a leader in that outfield. She’s the mamma and makes sure they all know what to do,” Woolery said. “Delaney [Lecluyse] behind the plate who may be a little quiet and sweet, but when she is on that softball field she is fierce and a competitor. Loren McQueeny was all smiles and giggles, but when she got out there she wanted to do what she could to help her team win. She was quite a competitor herself. Faythe Reeves, a manager, has given so much to this program. Talk about getting up at 6 a.m. practices to feed the pitching machine and anything we asked of her. She organized us like crazy. She’s quiet and fun.”

Coaches will also remain in the hearts of players for years to come. 

“Thank you for never giving up on anyone on the team. They [Woolery and assistant softball coach Melissa Wible] were some of the best role models I had during high school. Thank you to Woolery for all the morning donuts,” Lecluyse said. 

One of Lecluyse’ favorite memories with the team takes place during a rain delay last season. 

“We were having dance parties. [current junior] Avery Karlin was teaching us how to two-step or line dance. We did wheelbarrow races and there was a dance competition with the other dugout. We played tic tac toe with softballs,” Lecluyse recounted.  

Even though it is the end of their high school career, seniors are grateful for the time they had at DHS. 

“My softball chapter is done. I know my time with De Soto softball was probably some of the best years of softball I’ve had,” Lecluyse said. 



With 13 seniors on the team, the baseball team was looking forward to a successful season. 

“Thirteen seniors added with the young guys we had behind them made for an opportunity that doesn’t come along very often. We felt like this was a team that could possibly get to a State tournament and maybe win a State tournament,” said head baseball coach Joel Thaemert.

With that many seniors and talent on the team, Thaemert was excited for what they would accomplish.  

“This was a group where we had all the components to do it [go to State]. We had everything we needed in a baseball team. We were deep pitching. Our offense was going to be really good,” Thaemert said. “We had a great opportunity to do some great things. We had great leadership and chemistry…it was going to be a lot of fun.”

According to senior shortstop and second baseman Dylan Nimrod, the team “knew we could do it [go to State] because [they] had the talent and the chemistry.”

Many of these seniors had been playing together for years, so they had a close bond with each other and were upset when the season was cancelled. 

“Being able to spend that final year together was something that was really important to me and really important to a lot of my teammates, so it [cancellation] was really tough,” Nimrod said. 

In addition to the talent on the team, the players had a mindset that would have been beneficial throughout the season.

“The main mindset was for us to take one game at a time and just focus on the team at hand and then move on to the next thing,” Nimrod said. “Another reason that we were going to be so good is that no opponent was going to be overlooked. We were going to make sure to bring our best each and every game and make sure that we either won handily or didn’t go down without a fight.”

Even though the team was focused on competing at State, they also enjoyed each practice together.

According to Thaemert, the things that are often overlooked in high school sports is the time the boys get to “play together, go to practice every day and ride the bus together.”

“Those are little things, but those are the things that kids remember. It’s more the personalities of the players and the team,” Thaemert explained. 

There is something special about high school sports and being on a team with your classmates. 

“[It’s special to be] working together with a group of guys and being around them for months at a time and how close you get. Sometimes it’s not even about the sport but everything you do together and the relationships you create,” Thaemert said.  

With this in mind, the players’ favorite aspect of the group was how they worked together.

“My favorite thing about that group of guys was just to be able to have fun with everything that we did and take things seriously when we needed to, but also be able to look at the bigger picture and just be happy to be out there every single day,” Nimrod said. 

Thaemert also saw this aspect of the team and commented about it.

“[My favorite part of the group was how] they competed and just enjoyed being around each other. There was no ego. They didn’t worry about who played or who didn’t play; they all supported each other. That for sure was the best thing about them. They were a very cohesive unit,” Thaemert said.

According to Thaemert, this group of seniors are “super kids and very good young men” that “are going to do great things.” 

Saying goodbye is never easy and sadly the team does not get to say it in-person. Here are some things that Thaemert wanted to tell the seniors. 

“Thanks for everything you [seniors] have done leading up to this season and the two weeks we had together,” Thaemert said. “Enjoy every moment [you] are on the field and enjoy the relationships [you] have with [your] teammates.”

There is a lot of advice that senior athletes can pass on to underclassmen during this unprecedented time.

“Don’t take anything for granted because you never know when your last pitch is going to be made, when you’re going to last swing the bat. Regardless of if it’s a situation as serious as this or if it’s just a freak injury,” Nimrod advised. “You never know when your last opportunity is going to be, so don’t take anything for granted. Make sure you do everything you can for a purpose. The most important thing would be to enjoy it because it’s going to be gone.” 


Boys’ Golf

The unique part of golf is that people can still practice on their own and go to golf courses during this time. 

“At the golf course, they’ve raised the hole up like two inches to where it [golfball] doesn’t go in the hole. You don’t have to touch the flag. Your golf balls just hit it and then you move on. It’s all contact less,” said head golf coach Tod Hessong.

However, the cancellation of the season is still heavily impacting the team, especially for senior Ethan Iddings. 

“It’s a real bummer for sure. I was initially upset because I had a lot of fun playing golf throughout the years,” Iddings said. 

This year Iddings was the only senior on the team and he was looking forward to many things. 

“I was looking forward to the season especially since we had a lot of new kids for golf. I’ll surely remember my senior year for what it was,” Iddings said. 

Hessong was looking forward to seeing how Iddings competed during his final season of golf.

“I was looking forward to watching Ethan play and seeing what he could do. He shot in the 70s [in previous years]. He won a tournament last year. I thought he could do that and more this year; go to State, maybe have a chance to medal at State,” Hessong said. “He had a great chance of being a three-time State participant, not many people can say that.”

Iddings had the ability to have a very successful season. He had high aspirations for himself, too. 

“My main goal for myself this season was to get more score in the 70s and maybe snag a win or two along the way like last season,” Iddings said. 

Reflecting on the season, there are many things that Iddings will miss next year; Hessong being one of them. 

“[What I will miss most is] probably messing with Hessong, getting him fired up a little bit, pushing his buttons and getting a reaction,” Iddings said. 

According to Hessong, Iddings was a “different breed” and “was always fun, had the team in mind and always wanted to get better.” 

Even though he didn’t get to play his senior season, Iddings is grateful for getting the opportunity to play with his best friend, 2019 DHS graduate Spencer Thurlow, last year. 

“One thing I’m happy about is that I at least got to end my season with one of my close friends. We at least got to play out his [Thurlow’s] senior season. That was such a great time. I was looking forward to having my own,” Iddings said. 

One of Hessong’s favorite memories with Iddings was last year at State when the tournament got rained out and they, including Thurlow, were stuck in Dodge City for the weekend. 

“The three of us spent five days in Dodge City just hanging out. I mean that was long, but it was a good time being able to catch up and talk about things that weren’t golf related,” Hessong recounted. 

In addition to going to tournaments with Iddings, Hessong will miss the day-to-day interaction with him.

“Competing with him every day at practice was always a good time, trying to beat him and him trying to beat me. He won most of those,” Hessong said. 

Thurlow also has a younger brother, Brett Thurlow, who is a freshman this year on the golf team that Iddings had hopes of connecting with. 

“He [Spencer] is actually the one that got me into golf. Some of my best memories are with him,” Iddings explained. “I was trying to do the same thing with him [Brett] and go out and play. I was looking forward to having a year with the young Thurlow as repayment for what Spencer taught me.”


Boys’ Tennis 

The boys’ tennis team was excited to see the results of their hard work and make memories with each other.  

“I was most looking forward to seeing what us seniors were going to accomplish and getting another shot to qualify for State. I’d been practicing for about eight hours a week since last season ended so I was most excited to see how I’d perform,” said senior tennis player Adam Baruth. “I was sad that I didn’t have the opportunity to put my hard work to use.”

Head tennis coach Justin Hoffman had a similar reaction to the cancellation of the season. 

“This is easily the worst thing that has happened to me as a coach. I’m devastated that they don’t get to show how much they have improved and to go out and build life-long memories with their teammates,” Hoffman said. “It was apparent the guys had been playing and were ready to go and complete at a high level. I was looking forward to those matches where the guys got to showcase their skills and compete at Regionals and State.”

According to Hoffman, this group of seniors would have done very well and “had a great chance to win at conference and qualify for State.”

Unfortunately, these athletes were robbed of the chance to show their skills this season. 

“They deserved the chance to reap the rewards of their efforts,” Hoffman said. “This group will always hold a special place in my heart because they are the players that never had a chance. They were going to be a special group with accomplishments to match this spring and this pandemic took that away.”

Looking back on the seasons that these athletes did have, one of Baruth’s favorite memories with the team includes placing at a meet and laughing with his teammates.

“My favorite memory would be placing at the varsity meet in Bonner Springs junior year,” Baruth said. “I’m going to miss practices with the boys and, of course, Hoffman’s roasts.”

This friendly joking was a result of the closeness of the team and Hoffman’s personality. 

“Anyone who knows me knows I have a slightly sarcastic side,” Hoffman said. “When you spend as much time and energy together as you do with a team, you develop bonds that are more representative of a family. There has been some “roasting” that happens. It goes both ways, and it’s fun.”

In the midst of roasting each other and playing together, many memories are made. Hoffman’s favorite memory is slightly different from Baruth’s and displays the competitiveness of this group. 

“If I had to pick one favorite memory, and it is kind of an odd one, it would be how mad Baruth was after he lost a match last year. Rarely have I had a player have the depth of competitive fire that matches my own, and I could see just how much fight he had in him,” Hoffman said. 

Baruth is a doubles player with junior Connor FitzSimmons and has enjoyed the short amount of time he has played with him. 

“I haven’t played with him too much, but I’ll miss dapping [handshake] him up after every point we won,” Baruth said. 

Although it’s the same sport, there are differences between playing singles and doubles.

According to Baruth, “playing doubles requires a very different strategy [than singles] and is often much more fast paced.”

There are many things that these seniors will miss next year. 

“I’ll definitely miss eating out with the guys after an away meet,” Baruth said. 

Younger athletes can also learn from this time and take advice from seniors. 

“Enjoy [your] last year. Life moves pretty fast, and if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it,” Baruth advised. 


Girls’ Swim 

The girls’ swim team is in a unique situation. Unfortunately, there are no pools open as of right now so these athletes cannot practice their sport individually. However, they are still doing workouts to stay in shape and prepare for next season. 

“Coach [Knapp] has been sending us weekly workouts that are supposed to help us with specific strokes. Dry land workouts, which are just workouts that aren’t in the pool, are specific exercises that can help you build up the same muscles that you would use for specific strokes,” said four-year swim team member Syndey Ames. 

The girls’ swim team was looking forward to a year of progress and to the increasing number of girls on the team. 

“It was disappointing and sad. I was really excited about this season and about what a great bunch of athletes we had on the team,” said head swim coach Melissa Knapp. “Even with the few practices [we had], I could see that the team was solid; they were willing to listen, wanted to learn and were excited about the season.”

Ames also observed the same hard-working attitude in the team. 

“We made a lot of progress in the past year like making our program structured in a way that would lead us to be really successful. I think everyone was really, really excited,” Ames said. “There was just a lot of excitement and preparation for this season, and I think everybody was really ready for the season to commence.”

In terms of goals and achievements, Ames had hopes of breaking a school record, but remains positive about it. 

“I was one second away from the school record in breaststroke, so I was hoping to break it this year. It’s alright. Life goes on,” Ames said. 

Knapp also believed that this team could have won the United Kansas Conference as well as done well at State. 

In addition to doing well at meets, the swimmers were excited to spend time with each other and introduce the new members to the team. 

“I was really, really looking forward to getting a lot of the younger girls and the new additions into the swim team. I think swim is unique in that it encompasses a lot of different types of people like you can have people who are really committed … and you can have people who are just doing it for fun,” Ames said. “We do a really amazing job of bringing the whole team together and getting to know everyone.”

Coaches play a very important role in the lives of athletes and help them grow into better people. 

“My main goal is to develop well-rounded swimmers who understand the value of hard work and the importance of being a good teammate,” Knapp said. 

According to Ames, Knapp “is hands down the best coach [she’s] ever had” and “[Knapp] is incredibly nice, incredibly forgiving and understanding.”

These swimmers also have had an incredible impact on the heart of their coach. 

“I will miss you [seniors] and thank you for being such great role models for the younger athletes. It has been my pleasure to get to know such amazing young ladies. Two of my managers are also seniors, and I could not have done it without them,” Knapp said. 

Younger teammates have felt the impact of missing out on a season with this group of seniors.

“I’ve only known them [seniors] for a year and half and I was really looking forward to spending even more time with them before they left for college. I’ll miss seeing them. I was hoping to finish it [the season] out strong and see them everyday and now we don’t know when we will get to do that so that’s kinda sad,” sophomore swimmer Josie Butler said. 

Reflecting on what could have been often leads athletes to remember the past and all the memories that they have had during their high school swim season.

According to Ames, some of her favorite memories include “having team dinners or going to Freddy’s after practice with the team.”

“During practice you burn a lot of calories, so everybody is hungry the whole time. We all just talked about the food that we were going to eat. That’s pretty much the entire conversation during practice. That was really fun and I am going to miss that kind of camaraderie,” Ames commented. 

Throughout this difficult time, it can be hard to find a way to properly celebrate the seniors. However, Knapp is hopeful that this time a part from swimming will benefit the team next year while honoring the seniors. 

“I know I will enjoy every minute, as I now know what it is like to not have a season and I think that can inspire us to make the most of the season ahead of us,” Knapp said. “We can honor the seniors with our best effort and appreciate the sport we love by making every moment count.”


Note from the author to athletes and coaches: I am so sorry that these athletes could not finish out their high school career. I am so thankful for the conversations I had while writing this and am grateful for your honesty and courage for talking about this difficult subject. Athletes, thank you for your dedication to your sport. Coaches, thank you for helping each of these athletes grow and prosper. You truly leave an impact on your team and make being on a team fun. I hope each of you stay healthy and find closure in all of this. Hopefully, everyone continues their sport in one form or another. Stay safe, Wildcats!