HOUSTON – How do you encapsulate an entire career in 280 characters and four photos?
Is it even possible?
Tanner Witt didn't think he would have to sit down and write this Tweet until early May. After Episcopal had finished the year. After the Knights could have claimed their third SPC Championship in four seasons.
But instead, Witt found himself writing it on April 3. A goodbye to his school. A final goodbye to the high school portion of his career after the SPC cancelled the remainder of the 2020 season due to COVID-19.
"I definitely took a long time to press the send button," Witt said. "It was a tough one to type out really. All those emotions going into that caption. Episcopal meant everything to me. It's grown me into the man and player I am today. The friendships I've made along the way, either on or off the field, the coaches I've been mentored by, I'm just forever grateful for them. It was tough. It always happens, but for it to happen like this it was kind of tough."
4 years. I've given y'all everything I got. My heart will forever be with EK nation. I love my team. I love my school. 20 signing out🖊💙 pic.twitter.com/k5EzBBzidm
— Tanner Witt (@wittnesstwitty) April 3, 2020
As this group entered their senior year the goal was to reclaim the SPC crown.
In 2019, Episcopal saw its hopes of a three-peat dashed by rival Kinkaid in a 1-0 loss. Heading into the 2020 season, the goal was clear – finish with a title.
"For me this was our redemption year," Witt said. "We lost last year in the championship. We won the two years before, so we were looking to get back in the win column this year. The Coronavirus had other choices. It is what it is. This group of seniors was special and I'm glad I got to be a part of it."
The season was rolling along for Episcopal.
As the calendar turned to middle of March, the Knights watched as the world came to a screeching halt. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) had made its way into the United States, forcing the hands of schools to shutdown.
And with that, sports to come to a complete stop.
At the time, the University of Texas-signee said they had a feeling that an 8-1 victory over Houston Christian on March 13 could be it. There were rumors. They had been told "we weren't going to play for a while". But inevitably, a while turned into indefinite.
"I think not knowing that I was going to play my last high school game," Witt said about what the hardest part of all of this has been. "It's tough for seniors when they go play their senior night. But not knowing I was playing my last game and that was the last time out there with my buds, I'd say that was the toughest thing for me."
Knights win! Varsity baseball moves to 2-0 in the SPC with an 8-1 win at Houston Christian! #KnightsStandOut pic.twitter.com/Cl85bFdrpf
— EHS Sports (@EHSSports) March 14, 2020
Despite being told games would not be played for a while, Witt didn't stop his routine.
The senior continued on as if he was getting ready for a game. On March 25, Tanner's brother Preston asked to go throw.
Tanner obliged and sent him outside, where he said he would meet him in a minute. When the back door opened, Tanner emerged in his full Episcopal uniform, including his signature neon green right arm sleeve.
"I was scheduled to pitch that day," Witt said with a laugh. "I had been doing my throwing program and that was the day I was supposed to pitch in a game. So, my brother asked 'Do you want to go throw?' I said yeah, I'll be out there. He was out there waiting for me and I came out in my full uniform."
Asked to play catch and @wittnesstwitty came out in full uniform. You think he misses the game?😂 @EHSSports pic.twitter.com/5ybVLkVMPj
— Preston Witt (@witt_preston10) March 25, 2020
Heading into his senior year, Witt was receiving a lot of advice. The piece he took to heart was "to just enjoy it".
Not only is Witt a high-level college prospect signed to Texas but his name is also being thrown around MLB mock drafts. Witt was considered among the Top 100 prospects - No. 67 - heading into the 2020 draft.
MLB teams weren't allowed to contact prospects the first few weeks of quarantine, Witt said, but recently that has been lifted and he's been talking to MLB scouts.
"It's tough right now because they're still trying to figure stuff out about the draft," he said. "It's just a crazy time right now. We've sat down and talked about it. If it happens it happens, I'm just trying to enjoy the process."
Despite his season being taken away, Witt hasn't slowed down.
The son of former major leaguer Kevin Witt – the 28th overall pick in the 1994 MLB Draft – is sticking to his throwing program, working out with a weight set in his garage and "improvising with the tough times we have right now".
Not only is he staying moving for a potential call from MLB come June but also to be ready for David Pierce's Texas squad come 2021 if that's the route he chooses.
"I have to stay active no matter what's going to happen," Witt said.
Witt has spent his entire high school career at Episcopal, which makes the bitter end to a sweet journey all that much harder to swallow.
But what Witt takes away from Episcopal isn't just what he was given on the field but the life lessons off the diamond as well.
"Since freshman year, the relationships I've made with teammates, with coaches it's second to none. I love Episcopal," Witt said. "It's one of the best choices I've made going to Episcopal. It's just a big family. The baseball program is top notch. They not only teach you to be a good baseball player but also a good man off the field. I think that was the most important things I learned was how to be a mentor and a leader on and off the baseball field."
The Coronavirus outbreak has sent a shock wave of anxiety and concern throughout the world of sports. Here in the United States the MLB, NBA, MLS and even the new XFL have postponed or canceled their seasons. The NCAA even cancelled March Madness. Entire seasons in gymnastics, baseball, tennis and numerous other sports have been put on hold or cancelled.
Athletes in junior high, high school and college are not going to school as we wait and see how bad this crisis gets and how long it last.
With the sudden halt of these seasons, and the lack of the structured environment that school provides, hundreds of thousands of athletes throughout the country must face a serious transition. This transition forces the athlete to face a number of key stressors and losses that could have an impact on one's mental and emotional health and well-being.