If you have spent any time on Facebook lately, you’ll have seen posts from countless moms and dads mourning their children’s lost senior year. My feed is full of my friends who are devastated by postponed commencements and canceled senior proms, plays, musicals, sports seasons, and concerts. They remember their own senior years of high school and college, reminisce about the fun they had and the memories they made, and feel sorrow for their own children who will not get to experience these things. 

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As the “baby” out of my close friends, I don’t have this issue. My kids are in ninth, seventh, and fifth grades, and apart from missing out on their spring sports and band concerts, there are no milestones missed or anxiety over never seeing friends again. In my house, there is no worry over canceled flights home from college or how to pack up a dorm room on a moment’s notice. My kids are restless and a bit bored, but not devastated. I feel terribly for the kids of my friends, and all the kids missing out on their big events, but I really should be happy. Everyone in my house is healthy, my husband and I are still getting paid, and nobody is acutely sad.

So why does a part of my heart still ache and threaten to make me burst into tears at a moment’s notice? 

I think I found the answer—it’s the coach’s part of my heart that’s aching.

You see, I am lucky enough to help coach an elementary and middle school track team chock-full of the best kids on earth, including my two younger kids (my eldest has moved on to high school). This would have been my sixth season coaching that team, and my third time assisting in taking a team of boys and a team of girls to compete in the Penn Relays. 

The Penn Relays are every track nerd’s dream. They consist of four days of world-class high school and college athletes from across the country competing at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, and our little Catholic diocese and its track teams are invited to compete in one race per year—the 4×100 relay.

This was going to be OUR year.

Our eighth-grade boys run like the wind and have been waiting for this moment to be their turn for years. Our eighth-grade girls are fast, more mature than when they competed last year, and ready to rock the relays. Until the world started shutting down. 

First, we got word that our season was being postponed by two weeks. That was one week ago, and it’s not looking hopeful that we will have a season. Then, the news came that the Penn Relays have been canceled. Done. Just like that. A group of deserving kids won’t have their shot this year and get to run in something that’s “just like the Olympics” according to my daughter. 

I know it’s for the best. The crowds at Penn Relays are insane, and canceling something on that grand of a scale is the right call. I still can’t figure out why my heart hurts so badly for kids who aren’t even mine. I can’t figure out why I miss the kids on my team so acutely.

I can’t explain this coach’s part of my heart, but it’s there and it’s hurting. 

Remember the coaches and athletes in your thoughts and prayers as seasons are canceled and big shots are missed.

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There are coaches and kids out there missing each other and the stability sports offers. There are kids and coaches worried about what this means for scholarships and the future of their programs. Pray for us as we navigate this with the rest of the world. 

And in the meantime, I’ll never take the privilege of coaching these—or any kids—for granted again.

Nicole Greenplate

Nicole Greenplate is a mom of three, a coach, a wife, an enthusiastic outdoorswomen, and a lover of books. You can find her in her 145-year-old house in Maryland, tending to the garden, hanging out with her dog, or driving her husband crazy with another home renovation idea.