From a player’s perspective… Hampton’s Smith shares personal reflection, emotion of schools closing

Published 3:56 pm Monday, April 20, 2020


Everyone has an idea of how their senior year is supposed to go. From the college application process to prom and graduation, senior year is supposed to be the stressed, yet fun time to put a bow on your high school career.

The senior season in sports is the opportunity to make one last run at a state title with teammates you have known since childhood. 

Imagine these important last memories you had as a high schooler. They are pretty important to you, right?

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Now picture not being able to make those memories because of something that is out of your control. That is the situation myself and thousands of others are facing, as the 2019-20 in-person school year came to an abrupt end with Governor Lee’s Wednesday announcement.

Along with that, the TSSAA announced that the state tournament and the spring sports seasons would be canceled.

Many of us had hoped that the Governor would allow us to return to our school’s hallways, courts, and fields to seek closure on our careers. Instead, we are left heartbroken and wondering, “What could have been.” 

I was looking very forward to the season for Hampton Baseball. This year’s squad was ready to take the next step forward as a program.

It was a veteran-ladened team that felt it had improved dramatically in all aspects of the game. This season was going to be the first under the lights for Hampton Baseball.

Fellow senior, Dalton Rouse, was looking to rebound after an injury-riddled 2019 campaign. 

All signs pointed up for the Bulldogs in what few games we got to play. We started off the year with an Opening Day win against the FCA Flames on a wild day for Hampton High School as a whole, with boy’s basketball playing in substate later that night.

The ‘Dogs followed it up with a win at Happy Valley, the first in decades for the program.

What ended up being the last game in the 2020 season was a very exciting one, as it was the first night game ever at Scotty Bunton Field. My father and I got to throw out the ceremonial first pitches that night, and we won a thriller, 10-9, in walk-off fashion.

Although we didn’t know it at the time, this would be our last game as a team. Carter County Schools would have a few more days of classes after this game, before switching to online studies the rest of the semester.

In a span of just a few days, along with my classmates, I went from the ideal start to the spring, to have the rug pulled out from under me.

All of the hard work that went into high school, both academically and athletically, feels somewhat all-for- naught. 

I want to apologize to the entirety of the Class of 2020. This wasn’t the way any of us had planned this year going.

Having all of this time away from each other I’m sure has given us some time to reflect on our high school careers. I hope you take away all of the positives of this year before moving on to your next chapter in life, whatever God has in store for you.

I also hope that you are able to find strength through this tough situation, and grow from it. May it teach all of us how to persevere through whatever is in His plan for our lives.