COVID Burns Team: Causing Player to Reflect


Photo by: Ms. Henderson

Carter Thomas shooting a free throw.

Ice Emery , Student of Journalism

It’s March of 2020 and basketball brews in local high schools.

It’s the best time of the year; playoffs are prime. 

On the evening of March 12, the Neenah Rockets prepare for the dog fight against highly touted Chippewa Falls.

Sophomore Carter Thomas wants a victory and berth in the state tournament. 

News stations flood with reports about COVID-19. Carter feels relief that his game isn’t canceled.

COVID, a spark in a fire, didn’t hurt the team.

The game is still happening.  The anticipation rises with every turn of the wheel on the bus. The players plug their earphones in and block all the white noise out, and prepare for war.

After a back and forth battle, Neenah comes out on top on a game-winning basket, but little did the Rockets know that isn’t the hardest battle they face.

The collective gathers.  COVID now burns.  Carter welcomes distraction as he ponders, waits and reflects.  The news is delivered and air is sucked out.  What once seems unbelievable is confirmed:  the tournament is canceled. 

“This didn’t hit right away. I think shock was the biggest feeling. After the information was confirmed there was silence on the bus. At one point I looked over and saw one of our seniors crying and that’s when the realization of what this meant started to kick in.”

After months of hard work, the team lacks an opportunity to finish what is started. After making bonds that last forever, the stories are only a “what if we could have played.”

It is over just like that. 

Hours later, the sorrow hits as he says goodbye to four seniors that he grew up with at the peak of their high school basketball season.

“The thought of what could’ve been always goes through my head.”