BY DENNIS SILVA II | firstname.lastname@example.org
At around 4:30 on a hot Friday, May 1, afternoon, more than 30 vehicles were parked at Stanley Elementary. Parents, junior varsity players and other supporters of the Seven Lakes High baseball program started decorating their cars, trucks and jeeps with balloons, ribbons, self-made congratulatory signs and player banners.
On what was supposed to be “Senior Night” for the 16 Spartan seniors at their last regular season home game, a surprise drive-by organized by loved ones instead took place. Precautions for the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, forced the UIL to cancel its remaining spring sports season, including high school baseball, last month.
The Spartans’ senior players never got a chance to play their last home baseball game and enjoy their “Senior Night,” when seniors and their parents are recognized by coach J.R. Voyles prior to the game for their contributions to a program that is, year in and year out, one of the finest in the region.
So, Jennifer Tiedt and other parents started planning a surprise drive-by about a week ago. The idea was to decorate cars and drive by each senior’s home and give them a bag of goodies, showering them with honks, waves and blown kisses along the way.
In this current time of social distancing and isolating, it was the best that could be done.
“Since they’ve gone through so much and lost a lot of lifetime memories with a lost season, we thought, why don’t we bring the Senior Night to the driveway? It’s a chance to recognize them,” said Tiedt, mother of team captain Mason Tiedt. “They’ve gone through a lot this year and it’s been tough. We just want them to know how much we love them and we’re proud of them.
“We hate this season didn’t turn out the way they wanted it to, but we can still make our own unique memories with an event like this.”
Seven Lakes was 8-6 at the time the season was canceled.
“I truly believed this year’s team had something special and we were going to make a push to win state,” said senior outfielder Samuel Benjamin, a team captain and University of Houston signee. “I am sad that I won’t be able to play with my brothers on the field and disappointed that all our hard work over the fall won’t be able to show on the field and make our coaches proud.”
As a parent, Tiedt said she has tried to help her son focus on what’s next, not what was lost. That has been the general theme for parents dealing with seniors who had lost seasons.
“Their attitude has actually been really good,” Tiedt said of the senior players. “I think we as parents have tried to help them focus on the future. This is just a small part of their lives. They’ve got so much to look forward to. We’ve also tried to create unique moments like this and putting signs in the yards and other things that can somewhat replace what was lost. Though it won’t be the same, it can still create memories that hopefully will last a lifetime.”
Benjamin said the ordeal has helped him appreciate every moment, no matter how small.
“In these uncertain times where the season was over, I try to look back and see if had any regrets and if I left it all on the field every practice and every game,” he said. “It made me appreciate every moment of baseball I had, because you don’t know when it can all be ripped out of your reach.”
The 16 seniors from this year’s Seven Lakes baseball team:
>> Samuel Benjamin, OF: Team captain, three-year letterman, will be playing for University of Houston.
>> Aidan Bersche, OF: Two-year letterman, will be attending Oklahoma State.
>> Ethan Boehm, OF/RHP: Three-year letterman.
>> Daniel Coraspe, RHP: Two-year letterman, will be attending New Mexico State.
>> Jordan Craft, RHP: Team captain, two-year letterman, will be attending Texas A&M.
>> Kevin Hovance, RHP: Two-year letterman, will be attending Sam Houston State.
>> Nicanor Jimenez, RHP: Two-year letterman.
>> Declan Kelly, RHP: Two-year letterman.
>> James Nieberding, LHP: Two-year letterman, will be attending Texas A&M.
>> Ashe Ofield, RHP: Two-year letterman, will be attending Baylor.
>> Matthew Perkins, OF: Two-year letterman, will be playing for Concordia University.
>> Peyton Peterson, IF/C/RHP: Team captain, two-year letterman, will be attending Texas A&M.
>> Conner Syzdek, RHP: Two-year letterman, will be playing for Angelina College.
>> Mason Tiedt, OF: Team captain, two-year letterman, will be attending TCU.
>> Carson Waite, RHP: Two-year letterman, will be attending Baylor.
>> Will Wolf, IF: Two-year letterman, will be attending Baylor.