Seniors from EHS Softball Team Reflect on Lost Season

Special to the Independent

The senior season for any high school athlete always is the most-anticipated. The young athletes typically are at the height of their physical and athletic abilities. In addition, as seniors, they will have the opportunity to be leaders for their younger teammates.

The Independent invited the five members of the Everett High softball team from the Class of 2020, Maddy Duraes, Veronica Bento, Ariana Garay, Elizabeth Peach, and Ashley Yebba, and their coach, Stacy Poste-Schiavo, to reflect on what would have been their final season in an EHS uniform, but which so cruelly was taken away from them by the coronavirus.

Following are their comments, in their own words:

Coach Stacy Poste-Schiavo

It is with heavy emotions I write this:

When Everett announced that school would be cancelled for a month, many of the girls were concerned it would be just them losing out on their season. Then the MIAA postponed the season for everyone and we had faith that we would be able to complete the season, even if it might be abbreviated.

However, when the governor cancelled school for the remainder of the year, we knew the season was cancelled and reality set in. The MIAA did try to salvage the spring season, so many coaches are thankful for their effort. 

As much as we understand this was unavoidable, it is still a major disappointment for spring athletes across the country, especially the seniors who now won’t get to play their final high school season. Even though there is disappointment, we do not want to detract from the severity of this pandemic and are truly grateful to all of the front-line workers for putting their lives at risk. 

One thing for certain is that these seniors will never forget the struggle of this spring season, as well as losing out on many activities held at the end of their high school career. I also don’t want to forget the juniors, as this is an important year for college coaches coming out to recruit them.

As far as the seniors, three of them, Maddy Duraes, Veronica Bento, and Ariana Garay, have been with me since their freshman year. They would have guided the team this year with their leadership as captains.

Elizabeth Peach and Ashley Yebba earned a spot on the varsity team last year and could always be counted on for stepping in for any task we had asked from them. All five girls will be missed by both teammates and coaches. I know the underclassman will step up next year and dedicate the wins for them. 

One quality I want to touch upon about each of these seniors is “heart.” You can teach kids many things, but you cannot teach them to have “heart.” They showed this daily in practices and games and that is why I know this year would have been one of our most successful. These seniors represent everything a student/athlete should be.

Jen Nigro (Asst. Coach) and I delivered softball-themed masks as a reminder for the girls to take care of themselves. Also, they are a small token to let them know we miss them.  We left a letter in each bag for them that read:

“One day you will look back at these masks and realize that even though this virus took away our season, it only made you a stronger person and to never take life for granted. I know you find yourself in a state of shock and disbelief that this has happened this spring season. Seniors, even more so, considering you won’t get closure to your high school or athletic career. 

“We are all in this together and will come out stronger than ever. We are all here to help each other, but also need to be safe. There will be some type of closure when things get better.  As much as we are going to miss the season, it is the bond that we will miss the most. Some of the memories we are going to miss are the laughs, dances, singing on the bus rides, and celebrations we shared.

“It saddens us to think that the last time we got to see you as a group was just a few days before they suspended the season, at sign ups. That day, Jen and I could see you all beaming, knowing this was our year. Unfortunately, this virus took that away from us. We may not get to play in front of fans, parents, college coaches, but we will always have this bond that will keep us connected. 

“Your dedication to your sport drove you to where you are today. However, the sacrifice you are making during this Pandemic will make you a better person. The level of work ethic, passion, and dedication will help you all in the future.” 

Love, your coaches

Veronica Bento

During my high school career, sports has kept me busy, in shape, out of trouble, and certainly made me gain unbreakable bonds with my teammates, coaches, and even fans! During the school year, winter and spring season was always something to look forward to and definitely motivated me to stay on track with school work because you need to be eligible to even step foot on the court and field. 

Being a double varsity sport athlete made me develop leadership, team work, and sportsmanship-like characteristics that will be part of my daily lifestyle outside of sports. 

As Everett High is known to be a highly-skilled school, I am proud to have been part of both the academic and athletic aspects of it. Whilst playing two sports, I managed to maintain my 12-year perfect attendance, remained an honor roll student, and also was part of many clubs and participated in community service. 

Though I can’t fathom the thought of not being able to play my last season of softball, I understand it is the safest and smartest decision. It is upsetting to know that this year would’ve been our year, yet we won’t get the chance to prove how much we’ve grown and worked during the off season to finally get the championship title we deserved. 

Everything happened so quickly. The feeling was so shocking — that this had become our reality — than any other words can describe. Of course, we seniors feel “unaccomplished,” to have known our junior year season was also our last, especially because it ended the way it shouldn’t have. But I can speak for us all that we’d rather everyone remain safe and healthy than to force a spring season with many restrictions. 

As the end of my senior year approaches, it is also time for a new milestone to begin!  I will be attending Salem State University in Fall of 2020, as a Nursing Major and psychology minor with hopes of also being able to play softball. I intend to work as a Labor and Delivery nurse after I receive my bachelor’s degree while continuing school to earn my doctorate so I can fulfill my goal of becoming an Obstetrician-Gynecologist! 

Ashley Yebba

Being an athlete for Everett High made the past four years even better, as captain of the field hockey team since my junior year and to be on the varsity softball. Those connections I’ve made with my teammates and coaches I will truly miss the most.

I’m so proud to be an athlete at EHS.  Even just being from Everett we’re a very proud city, but being an athlete meant more. To play games in Everett was just the best experience I could ever ask for. 

With my final softball season canceled, it broke my heart, honestly, not to be able to play on the field with my team one last time — it’s just really sad. It would have been my last time playing softball for a team, since I will be trying out for field hockey in the fall at Salem State University. Though I might play club softball, it’s not the same as sharing a field with my teammates and being coached by Coach Poste and Coach Nigro.  

Elizabeth Peach

I have been playing softball since fifth grade and have been in love with the sport from the start. Being a part of the EHS softball team, on which I have been the starting left fielder, has given me another family.

Last year was particularly hard for my family because we lost my grandmother. The entire varsity softball team, plus my coaches, came to my grandmother’s wake in a demonstration of love and support for me. In that moment I realized  just how much each person on the team cares so deeply for the others. 

Having both my family and my softball family with me in such a hard time meant more to me than I can describe. 

Last year we made it to playoffs. It just so happened to be the same day as junior prom, but that didn’t stop us from playing our hearts out and doing everything we could to advance.

However this didn’t happen. While it was a sad moment to see our season end, we knew that everyone did all they could. Making it to playoffs was one of the best memories I have made with my team.

The cancellation of the 2020 season has been devastating to me. I don’t get to play one last time for my city with my second family. We don’t get the opportunity to go to playoffs again and advance further than we did last year.

The cancellation of the 2020 season has taken our last chance to play as a team — it is something we will never be able to get back.

Next year I plan to go to Salem State University and major in social work. I hope to become a therapist and help people overcome their inner battles. 

Madison Duraes

My athletic experience has meant so much to me from when I was about seven years old. Being a four-year varsity athlete for basketball and softball has truly shaped me into the person I am today. All the friendships I’ve made with some of these girls will last a lifetime.

There was never a doubt in my mind where I didn’t think my teammates weren’t my second family. We fought like sisters yes, but when it came down to putting our issues to the side for a practice or game, that’s what is most important to me personally. We could have had the most-talented girls put on a team, but if we didn’t have any type of chemistry, we wouldn’t have been as successful. 

With the season being cancelled, it really effects me, especially it being softball. Softball has always been my main sport and the thought of never stepping on the field with my sisters ever again hurts immensely. 

However, I am so grateful I had three great seasons with my team. It is very unfortunate that I can’t play my fourth year, but I don’t have any regrets. Every single girl played with their heart and soul every practice or game, whether they wanted to or not, and I’ll forever be thankful for that.

I will be furthering my academic career at Salem State University as a Nursing major in the fall.

Ariana Garay

Trying out for the Everett High softball team as a freshman was probably one of the most nerve-wracking moments I’ve ever had to experience. Everyone knew that Stacy Schiavo was intimidating and knowing that made me even more nervous than I already was. 

Stacy was my seventh grade history teacher so I kind of had a feel for what she was going to be like, but yet I was still terrified to play for her. I don’t think I spoke more than five sentences during my freshman season!

As time went on, I broke more and more out of my shell. I grew bonds with my teammates and especially with Coach Schiavo and Coach Nigro. Softball led me to meet some girls that I’ll hopefully be life-long friends with. 

Hearing about the cancellation of the season not only hurt because I didn’t get to play my senior season, but hurt most because people always told me that this was “our year.” We had the talent and more importantly, we had chemistry.

The idea of possibly not being able to step on the pitcher’s mound one last time breaks my heart. I’ve been playing with some of my teammates since we were children. I just wanted to play one last season with them.

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