Senior Mollie Collins on Being a Senior Athlete During Covid

Mollie+Collins%2C+submitted+by+Mollie+Collins

Mollie Collins, submitted by Mollie Collins

Katherine Jones, Staff Reporter

Mollie Collins, submitted by Mollie Collins

Update: Since the conducting of this interview, year-end plans and celebrations for the Class of 2021 are being solidified by the District, hopefully bringing a more satisfying end to the school year for all.

It has been over a year since the start of this pandemic. It started with extreme uncertainty about what life would be like. Now that things have settled, sports are allowed to be played, and students at Orchard Park High School are on a hybrid schedule. Things are starting to fall into a new normal. The class of 2020 had the unfortunate circumstance of missing out on prom and on a normal graduation. This year’s class of 2021 will be no different, and they even missed out on homecomings, spirit weeks, full sports seasons, and more, including going to school with their entire senior class. Some things are still unknown to this year’s seniors, like what exactly the end of the year will look like. Students’ sense of motivation and mental health has been at a low this school year, and the year has been especially tough on athletes. Geneseo soccer-commit and member of the basketball team, Mollie Collins, agreed to be interviewed about her thoughts about the 2021 school year so far and her future in athletics.

When you used to think of what your senior year would look like, what did you picture in your head?

MC: I envisioned that it would be like High School Musical was like: being with all of your closest friends at the pep rallies, powder puff game, football games, and overall just enjoying our last year together. That’s the exact opposite of this year. 

Do you like the hybrid schedule this year? Did you enjoy only going every other day? 

MC: The hybrid schedule isn’t bad. I like having every other day off, like the in-between days, to get my work done. But, it makes me less motivated, and I feel lazy. It makes you feel like you have a lot of time to get your work done, but I don’t feel motivated to actually do any of it.

How do you feel about not going to school with the other half of your senior class? 

MC: I thought it wouldn’t be that bad, but since most of my closest friends are on the other day it makes it kind of hard. The class sizes are so small this year, so it makes it hard not being in classes with any of your friends. I used to look forward to going to school everyday, but I don’t feel the same this year. 

What were you looking forward to the most your senior year? 

MC: Definitely the beginning and the end of the school year events. I was looking forward to my whole soccer season, the whole homecoming week, pep rally, football games, etc. At the end of the school year, I was looking forward to the senior picnic, senior prom, and graduation. 

What did you expect out of your senior year as an athlete? Did either of your teams have their eyes on sectionals or regionals? 

MC: I didn’t really expect much out of our soccer season. It was put together so late and our team was new. It was still a good season but definitely not what it could have been. For basketball, I didn’t even expect it to happen at all. I was planning on not playing this year, but the season happened and the team was thrown together. I was hoping for a shot at sectionals, but it still stinks. Usually for finals, we would have gone to Buff State, which is always exciting. Now, it is just going to be hosted at a local high school, which is not nearly the same. 

What was the hardest part of your soccer and or basketball season this year? 

MC: Obviously wearing masks made things more difficult. But, I would probably have to say not being able to do any team bonding. Normally in years past, we would do a lot of team events and team dinners. We couldn’t have that this year, so we didn’t have as much chemistry on the field and on the court, which hurt us. We couldn’t have any fans for basketball, so we aren’t as pumped up and the gym was not as loud. Definitely the team bonding though. I didn’t get to know my teammates and it made it harder to connect on the court. 

What did you enjoy the most about your seasons?  

MC: The seasons gave us a sense of normalcy and what life used to be like. It gave me something to look forward to everyday. There was not a lot going on outside of school in my life, so I really looked forward to seeing my teammates and doing things I used to love doing. 

Did COVID impact your recruitment with teams? If so, how?

MC: Yes, definitely. For soccer, normally your junior year, you go to ID Clinics. There, you play a bunch of small games and scrimmages. A bunch of coaches would watch you play, but all of those were cancelled. I had to resort to sending coaches films of me during my shortened season, and I really didn’t get a lot of film out of it. It makes it hard for coaches to see what my game is like from just a couple minutes of film. So yes, it definitely impacted my recruiting for soccer. 

Are you satisfied with how the District has been working to make your senior year the best it can be, even with COVID?

MC: I understand that these are very tough times and it makes it hard for them to plan things for us, but I found that last year they put a lot of work and energy into making sure the seniors of 2020 got the best out of their year. They had the adopt-a-senior, signs, the drive-by, etc. I feel like that they haven’t put energy and as much effort into our class. I’m sure they are planning stuff for the end of the year, but with three quarters of the year done, I feel like there maybe could’ve done a few things to make our senior year more enjoyable than it has been. We’ve basically lost our whole year. However, I do understand that there is very little they can do, and I’m sure people are working hard to make the end of the year the best it can be. 

If there was one thing that you could work to make happen this year, what would it be? 

MC: Maybe a prom or a day at the end of the year where all the seniors could get together, since we haven’t been together in over a year. We only go to school with half of our class, and a lot of people’s friends are on the other day. So, maybe a day at the end of the year to get the class together one last time before we all part separate ways. 

Mollie is not alone when it comes to having her sports seasons ruined by COVID and feeling down about the overall school year. Wrestling is not allowed to take place this year, the musical is greatly altered, teams can’t compete beyond ECICs and Sectionals, and more. The lack of energy from the District towards making the class of 2021’s last year at Orchard Park enjoyable is bothersome to a countless number of seniors. The class of 2021 will remember this year forever but won’t have much to make of it.  With the volleyball and football seasons finally getting their shot at a season, make sure to keep up with their games on the OPSCD’s YouTube.