For the Rock Springs High School (RSHS) senior boys soccer players, their senior year was a time for them to shine. However, due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, the team never got their chance to have that last high school season on the field.
Lyndon Klein, RSHS boys head soccer coach, said the team had been practicing indoors since December to prepare for the 2020 season and the boys were showing potential for success.
“After completing the first week of practice we could already see the potential this team had and their ability to play as a team,” Klein said.
Klein said the team was putting focus on playing better in the second half of the season, finishing strong.
“The last two seasons we started the first of the seasons undefeated and then we struggled on the road and into the post season, so we really wanted to just keep getting better throughout the season,” he said.
Last Chance to Play Among Long-Time Teammates
Coach Klein said as a coach, it was difficult to hear that the season was canceled, so he could only imagine what the players were feeling.
“I knew our players were also struggling with losing this season and everything we were looking forward to accomplishing as a group together,” Coach Klein said. “The loss of sports has been very hard to accept since it has always been there there for everyone to enjoy.”
Along with losing the sport for a season, Coach Klein noted that he lost the opportunity to coach the seniors for one last season, who he has been coaching since they were in recreation leagues.
“Many I have coached since they were 4-6 years old. So we were looking forward to having a positive last season together before we sent them off into the next chapter of their lives,” Coach Klein said.
Among the seniors was Kreston Klein, Coach Klein’s son. When discussing losing the season, Kreston noted that losing his last season with his dad was a big disappointment for him.
“It was the last time I would play for my dad,” Kreston said.
Kreston, along with fellow seniors, Chase Whitman, Conner McCloskey, and Kevin Cervantes, were all heartbroken when the season was canceled, as it was their last chance to play together as Tigers.
“We were crossing our fingers that the season would just be postponed, so the news of the cancellation was terrible knowing that was the last time I would step on the field with my long-time friends,” Kreston said.
For Conner, a concussion during his last season kept him from being able to play much of it, and even from remembering the experiences.
“When they gave us the news that the season was canceled, I was absolutely stunned. I don’t remember playing my last game for the high school because I ended up having a concussion, so when they told us the season was canceled, all I could think about was all the amazing memories I had made with my teammates,” Conner said. “I also couldn’t stop thinking about how I can never have my senior year of soccer.”
Unable to Strive Toward Goals
Each of the seniors had goals set for themselves and the team for this season that they never got to work toward.
“I think I speak for everyone who plays soccer that every person has goals to achieve and those were not able to be done because of this pandemic we are in,” Kreston said.
Kreston was training hard physically and was preparing mentally to be in his best shape for the season.
“I always thought to myself this was my year to shine,” Kreston said. “I wanted to build off my preceding All Conference accomplishment to earn an All State honor and play in the All Star game at the end of the season.”
Kevin Cervantes was looking forward to being able to build upon previous seasons and improve his performance on the field.
“One of my personal goals was to score more goals and get more assists than the past years,” Kevin said.
Perhaps the biggest goal for each of the seniors was to help bring the team to a state appearance. Chase Whitman said he believed they had the team this year that would have been able to showcase their abilities at the state tournament.
“This season I had high expectations for our team because we had some young talent along with very experienced seniors that have seen varsity before,” Chase said. “I believed that our team this season could’ve made it to state and expressed our talent on the biggest stage.”
Though the news of the season being canceled didn’t come as a surprise to Chase, he said it still hurt.
“Not being able to play senior year sucks because everything my teammates and myself worked for throughout the off season is now not being shown and put into perspective on the field,” Chase said.
Conner echoed his teammate, saying the hard work he had put in never got to be put to the test.
“It feels like all that time I spent preparing for this year was just stripped from me,” he said. “It was really upsetting.”
Conner kept up with workouts, “getting touches on the ball” in case the season could go forth. He wanted to be prepared to work with his team to make it to state.
“The goals I had for my senior year was to work hard with my teammates and make it to state. Some of my teammates that I’ve been playing with my whole life didn’t even get a chance to make it to the state tournament. I was lucky to make it my sophomore year on varsity,” Conner said.
Kevin was planning on taking on a leadership role on the team, helping his teammates get to the state tournament.
“One of my biggest goals was taking the team to state. I wanted to lead everyone and have a great season,” Kevin said. “Seeing that our season was going to get canceled was very disappointing and honestly heartbreaking.”
Kreston said the team’s goal was to make it to state, and to make it to the final game where they could play for a state title.
“We pushed each other very hard knowing we have to stay focused all year long,” Kreston said.
Each of the seniors will be attending college in the fall, and three of the four will be continuing their soccer careers.
Kevin was planning on playing soccer while he attends Western Wyoming Community College (WWCC), but then the program got cut. He will still attend WWCC and he is undecided on what he will study.
Conner is thankful he was able to sign with Sheridan College where he will continue his soccer career for two more years. Though he signed, it did not come without some disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID-19 has affected many things about my life, including not being able to visit the new college I’m going to, meeting my new coach and teammates, plus it was hard to get my name out there and show college coaches my skills when I have no senior season and I wasn’t able to try out for the team because of the virus,” Conner said.
Conner will study exercise science while attending Sheridan College.
Chase will also attend Sheridan College in the fall and will also be studying exercise science. He is excited to have the opportunity to play two more years of soccer while attending school.
Kreston will attend Gillette Community College to continue his soccer career. He plans to become a certified electrician. He hopes the virus will not affect his fall semester of college.