Alexa Atlas ('22)
What could’ve been: Baseball
The dugouts are gaining dust. The field’s grass is overgrowing. There have been no cracks of the bat or snaps of the glove since the last day of tryouts. The sunflower seeds and “Big League Chew” will be stashed away until the troublesome quarantine lifts.
Athletes are known to persevere. Whether it be in practice, training, or games, athletes always find ways to overcome the obstacles meant to keep them from achieving goals. But what if that obstacle shuts down the entire sports world as we know it?
The COVID-19 pandemic has put a halt to all forms of activity, including all sporting events. Here, we take a look at how the baseball team is coping with their latest obstacle and at What Could’ve Been?
The baseball team was coming off of a prolific year in which they won the division and reached the South Jersey Group 4 finals. Last year’s team was almost entirely seniors, but this year’s roster was ready to fill into their roles and make another run at the title.
“The expectations for this year’s team was to finish the unfinished business from last year and win it all,” said junior Noah Stofman (‘21).
For that reason amongst others, the season ending how it did was so gut-wrenching for each and every player ready to play “America’s Game” all spring long.
“The season ending really hurt,” said senior Nick Lopez (‘20). “This was my last year to play with these guys and having that taken away was really hard.”
The seniors- Nick Lopez, Matt Sulpizio, Dan Zimba, Robert Schweitzer, Mike Bowe, Jesse Keesal and several others have left their mark on East baseball on and off of the field.
“We had a special team,” said junior Hunter Wieland (‘21). “It was really disappointing having the season cancelled.”
“We have been doing Zoom calls with trainers,” said Zimba (‘20).
The unity of the entire program comes down to Coach Speller and the rest of the coaching staff who foster a cooperative environment.
“East baseball to me is my family. Coach Speller did a great job of bringing us together and creating a winning environment,” said Lopez.
But even with the aspirations of this year’s season put out, the team continues to look towards the future. The underclassmen and juniors have another year of baseball ahead of them and the seniors have continued to work hard throughout quarantine.
“I continue to do YouTube live streams of workouts,” Zimba said. “After East I’m gonna be playing baseball as a pitcher at Misericordia University.”
“I know a lot of the boys went to the fields (making sure to keep distance) to take at bats off of live pitchers,” said junior Josh Manders (‘21). “I’ve been running and doing some workout circuits.”
The will to keep working when they could have easily rolled over and let the season go to waste is a testimony to both the hunger and leadership on this team.
“We continue to share ideas on how to keep in shape in team group chats,” said sophomore Jake Atlas (‘22). “I’m disappointed I won’t be able to learn from the seniors this year.”
The roster was full of contributors to the team that reached the South Jersey finals just last spring, including juniors Lin Asari (‘21) and Kalel Carkeek (‘21). A team with the camaraderie as East baseball is always destined for greatness.
They also continue to workout over calls and reminisce over baseball memories they’ve made at East.
“The team has stayed connected by talking to each other weekly on how we can make improvements to our games and our lives,” said Stofman.
So while this pandemic has been difficult to the baseball players at Cherry Hill East, they continue to look for the silver lining in the entire situation. And to the seniors on the team, you will be missed by the entire East community.
This year may not have been even close to the expectation of the players, but it will be remembered as the season without late-inning drama, walk-off homers or hoisting the much-sought after trophy. Overcoming this obstacle proves these guys have impressive futures ahead of them.
And that is why this season will be remembered as a story of “What Could’ve Been.”