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Photo by VYPE Media's Bradley Collier.
Friday April 17th was supposed to feature a lineup of high school spring sports. Instead, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that in-state schools would remain closed for the rest of the 2019-2020 academic year and, within hours, TAPPS and UIL cancelled their remaining competitions for the same time frame.
Those announcements seemed inevitable the longer people were social distancing, but that didn't prevent high school seniors and their support groups from being disappointed. Hondo second baseman Aaron San Miguel was one of the athletes that felt like that.
"I was devastated when I heard the schools got shut down," said San Miguel. "Just the fact that we [in the] Class of 2020 have been working so hard just to experience these last moments of high school."
The 2020 Concordia University Texas baseball commit, like many seniors this spring, was using his extra time over the past month to sharpen his skills in the slight chance that he and his teammates would be able to finish the 2020 season.
"During quarantine, I've been doing a lot of home workouts and hitting into a Bownet," he said. "Looking back on it, every second was worth it and I even wish I would've done a little extra."
Even with a short final high school spring sports season, San Miguel did make the most of his senior year. He had another role for Hondo athletics and had a collegiate career to prepare for.
"As a senior, I also played basketball and I'm proud to say that I tried my hardest and always left everything out on the court [and] field for my team," he said. "For college, I am looking forward to playing baseball with a group of very talented baseball players and can't wait to get on the field and compete with them."
Another program that was affected was San Antonio Taft baseball. It featured a group of 11 seniors that played four high school seasons together.
"I was very shocked at first because as a team, we had no idea it was our last game," Taft senior catcher and 2020 St. Mary's University signee Devin Goins said. "It's just sad knowing that I won't be able to go out there one last time with my teammates."
Photo by VYPE Media's Bradley Collier.
For the past month, Goins prepared for a possible return to high school action. That didn't occur, but all the work he put in has pushed him towards his collegiate career.
"Ever since the season was first postponed, I have been hitting and throwing four to five times a week in hope of returning before the school year ends," he said. "Now that the season has ended indefinitely, I continue to hit, throw, lift weight in my garage and run in hope of having a summer season soon and get ready for college."
Like many athletes, Goins expects an adjustment to the college game. The extended break also forces him and other 2020 recruits to jump a never-before-seen hurdle.
"I'm looking forward to playing at the next level and will continue to work hard each and every day," he said. "When I join St. Mary's this next season, I expect to have a bit of nostalgia, being that the last time I got to practice with a team was with my high school, but I will be very excited to be back on the field."
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Even with a recent coaching change, 2020 signee Elyssa Coleman is committed to The University of Texas.
One of the biggest news announcements of the past week was The University of Texas vice president and athletic director Chris Del Conte's decision to not extend eight-year women's basketball coach Karen Aston's contract past its current August 31, 2020 end date.
Whenever a coaching change happens, there's immediately the question about who will succeed the previous leader. By Sunday, that person had been identified and hired. It was former Mississippi State and Sam Houston State head coach Vic Schaefer. The Austin native graduated from Houston Lutheran High School and later Texas A&M University before leading Mississippi State to the 2017 and 2018 NCAA championship games in his best coaching seasons to date.
A change at the head coaching position of a program usually affects the current lineup for years to come. Heading into the 2020-2021 season, seven of Texas' 12 players from the 2019-2020 campaign are eligible to come back. That includes guard Joanne Allen-Taylor, who graduated from Cypress Falls High School in 2018. She grew as a basketball player during Coach Aston's Texas tenure and will miss her because of that.
"She helped me grow by pushing me to not only work and better my game, but she challenged me to strive for the best on and off the court," Allen-Taylor said of Aston. "We had so much fun as a team together. The moment that sits with me the most...is how proud she was of us when we beat [nation No. 1] Stanford in December."
That's why it was hard to hear the news of Aston's departure. Allen-Taylor was at home when she received the call about it.
"Obviously, I was shocked and devastated," said Allen-Taylor. "Everything was running through my mind. I was hurt about it [and] it's still sad to think about."
Texas women's basketball recruits are other affected athletes. That includes the 2020 class, which signed before Aston's exit was announced. If nothing changes, the incoming talent will include Atascocita's Elyssa Coleman, Baytown Sterling's Precious Johnson, Westlake's Shay Holle, [Chatsworth, California] Sierra Canyon School's Ashley Chevalier and Harvard University graduate transfer Katie Benzan.
Coleman enjoyed her time with Aston during the recruiting process, including the day Aston saw one of Coleman's games in Virginia and offered her a spot on Texas' team.
"Being locked in my house, I've been on my phone way more," said Coleman. "I was scrolling on my timeline on Twitter and saw the article about her contract not being renewed. I was in complete shock since I've been talking to the staff all week."
But, the change to the program hasn't halted Coleman's excitement for the program or interest in being a Longhorn.
"Of course, I'm staying," said Coleman. "Mainly because I've made my decision on not only the coaching staff, but on how amazing The University of Texas is all the way around. I'm super excited for what the future has to hold for our program with such an accomplished coach like Vic Schaefer."
Along with Coleman, the Longhorns' women's basketball roster will feature a dedicated returner in Allen-Taylor.
"I'm definitely going to finish my college career at Texas," said Allen-Taylor. "I chose this school because I believed I can be [a] part of the best of both worlds, competing at a high level on the court and getting an engineering degree."
"I think everybody who plays for Texas wants to leave their mark," she continued. "I want to finish where I started and leave something behind that I can be proud of. I'm excited to get to know the new coaching staff. I know Coach Schaefer has plans to compete for championships, as well as I do, so I'm ready to get to work."
For more sports coverage, follow Thomas (@Texan8thGen) and VYPE (@VYPEHouston/@VYPEATX) on Twitter.