It was all over prematurely.
Without a chance to play a spring sport, athletes were left to think back and ponder what could have been as a Tiger.
Once schools closed due to the pandemic, that was it for spring athletes. Games and practices were canceled, and like many senior graduates, the athletes on those teams were left to only hope that a state of normalcy would return in time.
Unfortunately for those players, that day never came.
Tigers faithful will never get answers to how the 2020 spring season would have ended.
Would the boys’ volleyball team continue their dominant start?
Would softball make yet another bid for a league title and playoff spot?
Would the swim program make more strides in the pool?
Would boys tennis squeeze into a playoff spot in the CCC?
What athletes would rise to the occasion in track and field?
How would the baseball team put it all together in league play?
Would the golf team produce any spring surprises this season?
How would the mountain bike team fare in their first season?
All narratives that we will not get to see play out.
Every spring athlete has lost a year from their sport that they will never get back. For the seniors on the squad, this also meant they would be deprived of a traditional Senior Night celebration or consciously get to play the sport they love for potentially the last time.
For athletes in their final year of school, Senior Night is that one last chance to soak it in. Knowing that you are going to play at home for one final time can be a sentimental moment for the seniors on the roster. Seniors are showered with attention from fans, parents, and coaches, and a ceremony held in their honor as a way of saying goodbye.
None of them will get to enjoy that tradition.
“My thoughts on the season go out to my five seniors that will not be able to finish out their senior year. I have two seniors that played varsity for three years. Zach Rodriguez and Cesar Martin are three years starters and they were having a great season until it got cut short,” varsity baseball head coach Harley Parson said.
Swim coach Phoebe Skelson shared that the abrupt ending to the season has been tough to accept. It has disrupted not only the seniors’ final season but also the program’s back at least a year of training and improvement in the water.
“This has been an extra sort of heartbreak for me because these seniors were my first babies (as sophomores) when I started coaching swim three years ago. I’ve watched them grow so much as swimmers and close friends. They are the smartest, sweetest, and funniest group,” Skelson said. “We were hoping to qualify a couple of swimmers Lauren Lee (senior), Justin Leon (sophomore), and our girls 200 Free relay team. The team included: Hailee Thompson (Senior from Orestimba High that has swum for us for four years), Lauren Lee, Sophia Skelson (Junior), Kaeley Wheeland (Sophomore) for sections this year.”
The Patterson High softball team was coming off a share of a CCC league title and a playoff berth in 2019. The program was poised to test their mettle once again in 2020 before the season shut down.
“I really felt this season was going to be another great season. We have such a great group of talented girls and some young talent coming on. It’s unfortunate that we are ending our season this way. My heart breaks for my seniors. Some of these girls I have known since they are 9/10 years old and some I actually coached them at that age, so I have seen them grow and become such amazing young women,” head coach Jennifer Hamm said.
Players and coaches are left to salvage what they can from this season.
Spring Sports Senior Spotlight
Patterson High School Athletics welcomed seniors to share their favorite memories and posted those profiles to their social media pages as part of their Spring Sports Senior Spotlight.
Several seniors chimed in with their thoughts.
“Closing out our match against El Capitan with serves for a huge upset my junior year,” senior football and boys volleyball player Jordan Jacob said in his spotlight. Jacob plans to play football at the University of Redlands and study business management.
Teammate Junior Cruz shared his favorite personal and team memories. The boys’ volleyball setter said his favorite personal accomplishment was “indirectly making my coach fall off his chair after setting a dime cross court.”
He shared that the team bonding during workouts was something he will remember. “During dead period workouts, we recited exact scenes from Star Wars Revenge of the Sith.” Cruz will attend UC Merced and study in Management and Business Economics.
Boys volleyball and track and field athlete Kevin Somel shared that his favorite personal accomplishment was being named captain of the track team in his first year. His favorite team memory was “seeing all my friends succeed and working with coach John with the throwers.” Somel plans to play sports for the University of Puget Sound in Washington.
For senior baseball player Calvin Bower it was simply enjoying the feeling of comradery on the bus after his team won a game. Bower plans to enroll in the Coast Guard Academy.
Those baseball team bus rides must have been fun because teammate Zachary Rodriguez also felt that it was his favorite team memory playing for the Tigers. Rodriguez shared that his walk-off triple against Central Valley was his favorite personal accomplishment. He memorably broke a 4-4 tie against the Hawks with an RBI triple to score teammate Alex Mora to give the Tigers a 5-4 on April 19, 2019. He plans to attend CSU Stanislaus after graduation.
Senior softball player Delihla Garcia reminisced on a personal highlight from last year also. “Hitting three home runs in my first league game junior year,” Garcia said.
Garcia was out of this world in that game going 4-4 at the plate with an incredible 10 RBIs and three home runs on March 22, 2019.
Her favorite team accomplishment was winning two varsity championships in a row, including an undefeated league campaign and WAC title in 2018. Garcia announced her plans to play for Washington Advent University and major in nursing.
Track and field athlete Kayhla Brambila shared that her favorite personal accomplishment was qualifying for sections in the pole vault event last year. She took second at the CCC Championships to earn her right to compete at sections. She shared that her favorite team memory was the relationships made during the spring sports season by “building an unbreakable bond, and being able to have small parties with our coaches.”
Brambila plans to become a doctor after graduating from Patterson High.
Track and field teammate Natalie Cuevas Arevalo shared that her top personal accomplishment was getting a 5:48 time running the mile. Her favorite team memory was when they would have an inter-squad meet. She plans to attend Modesto Junior College and transfer later.
Swim team member Isaiah Gallegos shared that his favorite memory was setting a personal record in the 500-meter freestyle event by 33 seconds. Gallegos appreciated the close bonding he experienced with teammates and coaches.
“That feeling of family. We are all from different walks of life, different circles of friends, but we all came together to do something we all loved which was swimming.” Gallegos plans to attend UC Berkeley and study social work as well as a minor in elementary education.
The list of seniors for one final time this spring
It has been a tradition at the Irrigator to list the names of every senior included on the roster after their Senior Night. This year will be no different. Below is a list of the class of 2020 spring athletes.
Varsity Boys’ Volleyball
Kurandeep (Kevin) Somel
Alejandra Murillo Contreras
Track and Field
Natalie Cuevas Arevalo
Kurandeep (Kevin) Somel
Brooke Lynn Gill