Coach Ashley Burr (top) and her team training in Northern Michigan last summer.

from coach Ashley Burr

Congratulations! Although this is not the finale any of us expected, your hard work and perseverance has not gone unnoticed. As many of us are mourning our final seasons and the memories we hoped to create, I want to remind you that your athletic days are far from over. Being an athlete ecompasses far more than what a single season can provide. To get to this point, you have dedicated long hours to practice. You’ve sacrificed your time and energy. You’ve learned to work with others as a team. You know what it takes to be successful. You’ve earned good grades and learned to manage a busy schedule. You’ve learned to be a good sport with every win and every loss.You’ve persevered through injuries and setbacks while maintaining a positive attitude. You are leaders. You are role models. It is important to remember that being an athlete is more than playing a sport, and your athleticism does not end here. 

Some of you will go on to play collegiately. Some of you will join rec leagues. Some of you will run marathons and win triathlons. Some of you will powerlift or join crossfit. Some of you will win golf tournaments. Some of you will even coach and impart your skills to future athletes. Regardless of where athletics takes you, the qualities that sports have helped you acquire will translate into every job, position, and program you embark upon.  

While our spirits feel crushed, it is imperative that you DON’T QUIT. As athletes we are always progressing. Right now, many of us struggle because our progress is slowed. We may even feel we aren’t progressing at all, but quitting won’t speed this process up. Continue to practice your soccer drills. Continue batting practice. Continue running. Workout from home. Find new ways to challenge yourself. Try sports and training practices that you didn’t have time for before. This isn’t easy, but you didn’t sign up for easy when you became an athlete. You’ve still got this. There are teammates to be made, clubs to join, and training partners out there waiting for you. High school flashes by in the blink of an eye, but the character and skills athletics has helped you refine will last for a lifetime. While my heart goes out to all of you, we cannot forget to be thankful for what we have and what you have already accomplished. The next chapter of your lives is here and it’s not waiting for you. Continue to be resilient and to work hard. I promise you will not regret it. 


from Mara Pellerito 

One of the coolest aspects of the high school experience, for me, has always been that every single person has a unique experience. Each person has a million different choices and pathways that they could take, and that means that everyone experiences high school in a vastly different way from the person standing next to them. I believe that as a result of this, every student is shaped into the young adult they have become at the time of graduation. This year, the end of the journey that usually means the most to students, was taken away from the graduating class of 2020. As we were going headstrong into the final stretch of what has been for some of us the last twelve years of life as we knew it, suddenly, the goal that was oftentimes a milestone in the education path of a student, but sometimes the end for a student, was seemingly gone. For some graduates, there would be no more school, those going immediately to the workforce, or the armed forces, and these last few months spent with friends, teachers and classmates were all that was left. Others, while there are many more years of college ahead, these three months would have been a time to celebrate. 

I would like to acknowledge the things that we, as students, but also as young people, are missing. I think that in such an unprecedented time, we cannot push those experiences under the mat for reasons such as, it’s only a sport, the last day of school, a performance, or a silly school dance. That last season of sports could be the one that inspired an athlete to become an athletic trainer, the last spring musical could have created a relationship between two friends that could last for years to come, and that last day of school, could have offered the opportunity for closure, and the chance to say the goodbyes or thank you’s that we never got to share. Yes, there certainly are much more important parts to our lives yet to come, and we know that. But those experiences are some of the moments that we would have remembered for the rest of our lives. Much like the moments that we have already experienced. Personally, I will cherish memories from the soccer field, track, classroom and student section the most, for those times spent with my teammates, friends and classmates are what made me the person that I am today. I am so grateful that I got to make those memories, and that I had the chance to enjoy something so much that it would make losing it, or part of it, so hard. In this time where it is so easy to fall into a habit of feeling down about the things we have lost, I would like to remind you to look back at what made the experience of becoming the young adult you are today so unique and meaningful. I hope you will cherish those memories, and try to learn from them, and this experience in any way possible. 

I’d like to now tell a story about something that is unique and meaningful to me. Something that has both taught me about life and shaped me into the person that I am today. This spring, I was spending one of my classes as an Independent Study for Mr. Donahue, one of Gladwin High School’s amazing science teachers, specifically for the Botany class. I took Botany as a Junior, and I loved the process of planting these miniscule seeds, spending countless hours watering them, and then miraculously seeing a tiny green sprout appear, that would later grow into a beautiful plant. It taught me patience, persistence, and it also taught me about effort. This year, our class had just begun transplanting new plants and planting more seeds. It was at this time, the most crucial point in those little plants lives, that we students were no longer allowed to give them the care that they needed. The sheer amount of seeds that had been planted, made me wonder if there was any way that they would survive this crazy time. I highly doubted their chances, and it made me very sad. A couple weeks ago, I was able to see the plants that we had planted. After weeks of isolation and uncertainty, where I expected brown and shriveled plants, I saw a marvelous display of life, vibrant and green in all the ways it should be and even more. That opportunity made me realize the importance of this time. While it often seems dark and challenging, it is important to realize that with the proper care, we too can come out of this flourishing, just like those plants. All it took was our teacher’s dedication and love to make those plants become something beautiful. So I urge you, look around, at the family that you are so suddenly spending an abundance of time with, or whomever you may be surrounded by, and recognize that even if you feel alone, the love surrounding you will be what makes you flourish. Even when there is more uncertainty than ever before, the care that is coming from family, friends and even your inner self, is giving you the chance to come out of this situation so much more fortified and stronger than before. 

Lastly, as I was looking back at my experience so far, I realized just how much I wish I could say thank you. I hope that through this I can say thank you to my teachers, classmates, teammates and friends, for making my high school experience one to always remember and also for making me into the young person that I am today. Without you, I would not be able to write this knowing that I am fully prepared for whatever the future brings, because I am already conquering this crazy time right now. Thank you.

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