It was during her freshman year that Cinco Ranch senior Sophie Atkinson was dealt an awakening of sorts.
A metatarsal fracture limited Atkinson to two cross country meets during that year. Then she suffered a stress fracture to another metatarsal on the same foot that wiped out her track season.
But after eventually coming to terms with the devastation of two setbacks within months of each other, Atkinson found a wat to move forward. She leaned on her faith. Her focus turned to becoming a better teammate. And, most importantly, she realized there was a lot more to her life than running.
A serve was hit and everything seemed normal again, almost as if time froze and the tragic pandemic of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 was forgotten, at least for a couple of hours.
Just days after Katy ISD cross country teams initiated their respective 2020 seasons, and mere minutes after team tennis programs began district play, volleyball teams followed suit on Tuesday afternoon, albeit six weeks later than usual. Wearing masks and exchanging high-fives for elbow taps, Katy High volleyball players and coaches showed off a genuine enthusiasm and appreciation, even more so than usual, during their season-opener at home against Stratford.
The Tigers swept the Spartans in dominant fashion, 25-11, 25-13, 25-16.
The last year has been quite a ride for Cinco Ranch senior runner Heidi Nielson.
A femur injury sidelined her high school cross country season after an exhausting summer representing Team USA at the Pan Am U20 Championships. Then the novel coronavirus COVID-19 abruptly shortened her track season in mid-March. The global pandemic also hindered Nielson’s recruiting, as she was unable to make visits to colleges or compete in significant events.
“It really sucked,” Nielson said. “The cross country season, I get hurt, and it was like, ‘Welp, there it goes.’ I was still hyped, I was really ready for the track season, and then everything gets shut down. I was so sad. Even now, I’m still, like, ugh.”
Still, it all worked out. A star distance runner since her eye-opening freshman season for the Cougars, Nielson verbally committed to continue her athletic career at Arkansas in an Instagram pledge on Sept. 9.
Due to the restructuring of the UIL 2020 high school football season caused by the novel coronavirus COVID-19, Katy ISD’s nine head coaches spent the last month or so revising their schedules.
Some programs, such as Katy and Tompkins, still have holes to fill on their schedules. But otherwise, the primary change is moving up district games earlier to get those done—as it is the district season that determines playoff qualifiers—and splitting the four non-district games for the district’s seven Class 6A programs, two for Weeks 1 and 2 and two more, if possible, to close the season.
In Class 5A-Division I, where Paetow resides, nine-team District 10-5A will split into zones for the upcoming season. Paetow will be in Zone A with Richmond Foster, Kempner, Rosenberg Terry and Houston Wisdom. Zone B consists of of Angleton, Hightower, Manvel and Milby.
Former Katy High star and Wisconsin senior defensive back Collin Wilder ran through a gauntlet of emotions Tuesday evening after it was learned Big 10 conference presidents had voted to postpone the fall 2020 college football season due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
The first four plays on Taylor senior safety Trevor Woods’ recruiting highlight tape are interceptions. All returned for touchdowns. All from one season.
“And a couple at key points, too,” Taylor coach Chad Simmons gushed over Woods’ heroics last season. “Real key points. Three in the playoffs. Like, what? Say what? You look at that tape and they’re the first four plays and you’re like, ‘Dang!’”
The 6-foot-2, 202-pound Woods plays the “rover” in the Mustangs’ 4-2-5 defensive scheme. It’s basically the strong safety. For some other teams, it’s the nickelback. For Taylor, it’s its best tackler.
Simmons schemes his defense to “bounce the ball” toward Woods, allowing him to do what he does best—make plays and get it back for the offense. Last season, Woods did just that, compiling 165 total tackles with eight sacks, five interceptions, five fumbles caused and a fumble recovery for the Class 6A Division II state semifinalist Mustangs.
Colby Huerter is a two-time Class 6A all-state selection. A bruising, athletic 6-foot-1, 190-pound safety, he is a prolific stat-stuffer for Tompkins’ defense, averaging 6.2 tackles per game with 10 interceptions, a fumble recovery and a fumble caused in 26 games over the last two seasons.
Even more impressive than his physical ability, however, is his guile. One of my favorite plays—of any high school athlete I’ve covered in my 15 years in sportswriting—is this heads-up save during a game against Cinco Ranch two years ago.
“My approach to being a safety is to know your opponents better than they know themselves,” the incoming senior said. “So, when it comes to game time, there is not a lot of thinking on my part, just reacting. My mindset is to give maximum effort 100 percent of the time.”
The Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) announced on Friday it is delaying the start of its fall sports season.
The season has been pushed back because of a significant and severe rise of cases of COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus.
Programs can return to practice on Sept. 8. Volleyball and individual sports, like cross country, can start their respective seasons Sept. 21.
Football teams will have one scrimmage the week of Sept. 21, followed by the start-up of the season on Sept. 28.
“All things considered, we still get to play,” said Clay Richardson, head football coach of St. John XIII, which is in TAPPS Division I-District 2. “Can you imagine being a senior knowing you won’t play college football, but you love the game so much and it’s taken away from you? That would be heartbreaking.”
Cinco Ranch junior offensive lineman Ethan Onianwa recently verbally committed to Rice. It was somewhat of a surprise, considering Onianwa only has 10 games of varsity football under his belt and his recruiting process was stunted by restrictions due to the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.
“The current coronavirus outbreak affected my recruiting experience a lot,” Onianwa said. “Due to the current epidemic, I wasn’t able to visit colleges and have coaches come to our spring practices. It most definitely made it harder to learn about programs from the players and coaches there.”
COVID-19 prevented college coaches from going on the road to recruit and closed campuses, which disallowed visits by recruits. It also canceled spring football, a time of the year when college coaches can visit high school campuses to watch practices and talk to high school coaches about players.
Still, Onianwa was able to secure his future in a sport he only started taking seriously in middle school, in large part because he’s a tantalizing physical prospect. Onianwa stands 6-foot-5 and 305 pounds. He’s also only 16 years old.
More nerve-wracking than any pressure shot was the recruiting obstacles a global pandemic presented to Tompkins senior golfer Zach Asaro this spring.
When the high school golf season was postponed in mid-March and then eventually canceled less than a month later, it stunted an impressive season for Asaro, an all-district performer. He was hoping to strut his swing at the district and, hopefully, regional and state meets, searching for a scholarship offer from a bigger school after receiving interest from NAIA and NCAA Division III programs.
Those meets never took place. But Asaro, through persistent mobile and virtual contact with University of New Orleans men’s golf coach Jeff Lorio and leaning upon the faith and trust of sights and a program unseen, earned that shot at a better school, committing May 1 to play for the Privateers, a NCAA Division I program in the Southland Conference.