While student-athletes await a potential abbreviated spring sports season, Hilliard City Schools and the city of Hilliard have teamed up to help commemorate the seniors who may have already competed in their final prep event because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Banners recognizing each of the senior student-athletes from Bradley, Darby and Davidson who compete in a spring sport are on display in downtown Hilliard.
The banners were purchased by the athletic departments for each high school.
“This was an important chance for the schools and city to partner on a project that brings a little light to our community at a time when we all need something positive,” said David Ball, the city’s director of communications. “We may have three different high schools, but Hilliard is one united community.
“The city was both happy and proud to support the district’s idea to find a place to recognize these students at a time when the stadiums and gymnasiums where these banners would normally be displayed are unavailable. We are all in this together.”
On April 8, the Ohio High School Athletic Association announced that it has a tentative plan in place for an abbreviated spring season, but the plan is contingent on students returning to their classrooms May 4.
Athletes in baseball, softball, lacrosse and track and field had been practicing with their respective teams for more than two weeks when the OHSAA announced March 13 that the spring sports season was postponed. The OHSAA’s mandatory no-contact period began March 17 and runs through at least May 1.
Lily Garnett-Brown, a senior shortstop on the Darby softball team, visited downtown April 14 to view her banner.
“Everything that (the city and school district are) doing for everyone is amazing,” said Garnett-Brown, a College of Central Florida commit. “Not every school district can have an opportunity like this and it’s really cool. Hopefully, we have a season, but if we don’t, at least we have some type of recognition.”
David Metzler, a senior on the Bradley boys track team, also visited downtown April 14.
“I’m glad that (the city and school district are) doing this,” he said. “To be able to recognize all the seniors that put in all the hard work in the offseason and during the few weeks that we had for this season, it means it makes sure that they’re recognizing us. It’s a great thing that they’re doing.”
Metzler finished 19th in the shot put (43 feet, 2 1/2 inches) in the Division I indoor state meet March 7 at SPIRE Institute in Geneva.
“I haven’t been to (the) outdoor state (meet),” said Metzler, who also plays football and has committed to Youngstown State as an offensive lineman. “I was hoping to go state this year, but we’ll see how that goes. … If we go back to school in May, they’ll let us have a six-week season. I would take anything at this point.”
Jackson Lightfoot, a senior outside hitter for the Davidson boys volleyball team, previously played football and soccer but skipped those sports this school year to concentrate on volleyball.
“If I can’t have a senior season, to have the whole city of Hilliard support us like this feels pretty good,” he said. “I’m proud of it, but I’m just curious about what the senior season could have been. We had some pretty big goals this year for our senior season. It’s sad, but it’s good to look back on all the memories I’ve had.
“I would love to have a varsity season, but I just want to get back to normal as fast as possible. I don’t want to hurry things up if it’s just going to make (the pandemic) worse.”
Noah Platfoot, a senior setter for the Darby boys volleyball team, was working in the area when he saw city employees hanging the banners.
“Although it’s exciting to see myself up there, it’s pretty heartbreaking that it’s not in the gym,” said Platfoot, an Ohio State commit. “When I saw (the banners), the first thing to come to mind was the season. I would do anything to be on the court with my brothers. This was a special group and we were all looking forward to playing together one last time.”
Davidson athletics director Nate Bobek is proud of the collaborative effort between the school district and city.
“My heart truly goes out to every senior who’s out there,” Bobek said. “It’s a tremendous loss for them in terms of not getting to experience everything that goes along with their senior year, but better days are ahead of them. It’s going to take some time to get there, but they have to keep the faith. Anything that we can do to recognize these young men and women, we’re all onboard for doing that.”