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The Resilient 17: The forgotten athletes of COVID-19

High school seniors are being celebrated around the country after the abrupt end of many of their careers.

March 12, 2020; the day the sports world stopped. Due to COVID-19, nearly every major sports organization such as the NBA, the NFL and MLB, were forced to shut off their lights for the foreseeable future. However, for one subgenre in the sports world, these lights were never to be turned back on.

What I am referring to here is high school sports, but more specifically, high school seniors. For millions of high seniors across the country, the nightmare of not being able to finish out their high school careers has suddenly turned into a harsh reality. The chance to win that final state championship game and go out on top is gone.

For some, this nightmare will become permanent, as their athletic careers are now over. For others, however, they will have the chance to gradually wake up, and continue their careers at the intercollegiate level.

After some thought, I decided that I needed to do something about this. There are too many stories out there that need to be told. These kids deserve to have their moment in the spotlight.

Furthermore, I am proud to introduce “The Resilient 17.” These seventeen senior athletes, who are spread out across the Northeast region of the country, represent everything I wish I could when I was their age. They represent courage, bravery and humility like you wouldn’t believe. They could have easily let this pandemic keep them down in the dumps, but have instead, turned a crappy situation into an opportunity of growth. I am proud to be able to give them this recognition, that they so rightfully deserve.

CJ Pittaro – Steinert High School (NJ)

Sport – Baseball

College – Vanderbilt University

Favorite Netflix Show – The Office

When asked what resiliency means to him – “I’d say resilience is how someone reacts to failure. In sports and in life we are all going to fail, but the resilient ones are the people who use it as fuel to improve and learn from their mistakes.”

Cade Szostek – Malvern Prep (PA)

Sports – Football and Lacrosse

College – Penn State

Favorite Netflix Show – Outer Banks

https://twitter.com/PennStateMLAX/status/1194698431664668672?s=20

When asked what resiliency means to him – “Being resilient means that no matter how bad things get, we keep going and moving forward. We take all the pain, anger, sadness and frustration and we use it for fuel to better ourselves.”

Matt DeLuca -Ridgefield High School (CT)

Sport – Baseball

College – Quinnipiac University

Favorite Netflix Show – Criminal Minds

When asked what resiliency means to him – “Resilience means bouncing back no matter what, no matter what happened and no matter who’s watching, and coming after the next guy.”

Kendra Ezeama – Smithfield High School (RI)

Sport – Track and Field

College – Brown University

Favorite Netflix Show – Castlevania

When asked what resiliency means to her – “I was a high school athlete: excited for practice, track and field competitions, and the opportunity to meet new people. The priceless opportunity to say goodbye to that life has been taken away, and I am left with the pieces of a climax never reached. Some athletes will leave the mess there; however, other athletes will pick up the pieces and continue building. That is resilience. That is what I choose to do.”

Brian Skettini – Ridewood High School (NJ)

Sport – Baseball

College – Rider University

Favorite Show on Netflix – Friends

When asked what resiliency means to him – “Resiliency to me is the ability to bounce back when faced with difficult situations, such as the one we’re currently in. Our class will miss some milestones, but we will move forward stronger than we were before.”

Alex Kadar – Haddonfield Memorial High School (NJ)

Sports – Football, Basketball and Baseball

College – Georgetown University

Favorite Show on Netflix – DAVE (On Hulu)

When asked what resiliency means to him – “Resilience to me means unbreakable, continuing to push yourself when you’re at your best and even more when you’re at your worst.”

Luke Vaks – Cedar Creek High School (NJ)

Sport – Baseball

College – Old Dominion University

Favorite Netflix Show – The Last Kingdom

https://twitter.com/ODUBaseball/status/1197213813155729410?s=20

When asked what resiliency means to him – “To me, resilience is the ability to come back from a down time and be just as strong, if not stronger by the end of it.”

Bobby Hoye – Rumson Fair Haven Regional High School (NJ)

Sport – Soccer, Cross Country and Track

College – Roanoke College

Favorite Netflix Show – Friends

When asked what resiliency means to him – “Resilience is life kicking you down in every way only for you to keep putting in the work. Resilience is having every excuse in the world to give up but to push through anyway and grow through that pain.”

Camryn Mcgee – Pearl River High School (NY)

Sport – Softball

College – St. Thomas Aquinas College

Favorite Netflix Show – Friends

When asked what resiliency means to her – “To me, resilience is always giving my best regardless of the emotional and physical pressures I am faced with.”

Jake Fles – Gardiner Area High School (ME)

Sports – Football and Lacrosse

College – Saint Joseph’s College of Maine

Favorite Netflix Show – The Office

When asked what resiliency means to him – “Resilience to me is the ability to push through the hard times and decisions in life in order to survive. You have to learn to accept life on life’s terms.”

Griffin Broad – Wakefield High School (NC)

Sport – Lacrosse

College – Newberry College

Favorite Netflix Show – Money Heist

When asked what resiliency means to him – “Resilience means coming back and being stronger than how you initially started.”

Shaylah Marciano – Princeton High School (NJ)

Sports – Soccer, Basketball and Lacrosse

College – University of Michigan

https://twitter.com/JSZ_Sports/status/1132092029868158976?s=20

Favorite Netflix Show – Outer Banks

When asked what resiliency means to her – “Resilience, to me, is staying determined and motivated despite any and all obstacles in the way.”

Emily Phelan – Bishop Kearney High School (NY)

Sports – Volleyball and Softball

College – St. Bonaventure University

Favorite Netflix Show – The Office

When asked what resiliency means to her – “Resilience to me means having the ability to overcome any obstacles that may be thrown your way and staying strong in the face of adversity!”

Hunter Palmieri – Saint Johnsbury Academy (VT)

Sport – Football

College – Endicott College

https://twitter.com/EndicottFB/status/1241122604787867649?s=20

Favorite Netflix Show – All American

When asked what resiliency means to him – “I define resilience as being able to bounce back quicker and better than before. To never give up and no matter what the predicted future might be, don’t let it affect you. This tests not only your physical fitness but your mental toughness as well. NEVER GIVE UP.”

Richmond Kwaateng – Lowell High School (MA)

Sports – Football, Basketball, Track and Field

College – University of Connecticut

https://twitter.com/LowellTrack/status/1245483268339834883?s=20

Favorite Netflix Show – Money Heist

When asked what resiliency means to him – “What resilience means to me is overcoming difficulties in life and able to work hard to recover from it.”

Cade Johnson – Southern Regional High School (NJ)

Sport – Lacrosse

College – Chestnut Hill College

Favorite Netflix Show – “You”

When asked what resiliency means to him – “Resilience to me is not to give up when you get knocked down. Being able to take a hit and get right back up.”

Kendall Halpern – Syosset high school (NY)

Sports –  Soccer, Basketball and Lacrosse

College – Northwestern University

Favorite Netflix Show – Greys Anatomy

When asked what resiliency means to her – “To me, resilience is having the ability to continue to succeed and grow as an athlete and person when you are faced with obstacles along the journey.”

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Peter Snyder
Peter Snyder is an Intern sportswriter who covers collegiate athletics as well as professional sports.
Peter Snyder

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