SNOWVID-23: It's not like the pandemic of 2020, but this year's seniors face more hurdles

Student-athletes who were freshmen in 2020 now being challenged by winter weather in their senior years.
The field at Jack Brown Stadium is covered in snow Tuesday, April 19, 2022.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

FARGO — Ask any high school athlete who played in the spring of 2020 if they can recall the moment the COVID-19 pandemic turned the world upside down. Most could tell you exactly where they were and the emotion they felt when they found out.

“Going into spring break, I was super excited for the baseball season to start,” said Moorhead's Gavin Quade, a freshman at the time. “It was going to be the first time I was going to play for the high school team, so it was exciting.

“I was on vacation over spring break in St. Cloud, (Minn.) and that’s when we got the call that school was going to be shutting down and with that, the baseball season was over, as well. When I got the news, it was heartbreaking as a freshman excited to be a part of something new.”

Ella Frisk, now a senior at Fargo Oak Grove and a captain for the Fargo Shanley girls soccer team, recalled a similar experience during her freshman season.

“We just came off of winning state, which was super exciting,” Frisk said. “We were all super pumped up. We were kind of keeping an eye on (the pandemic) and getting the texts. Our coach was saying how we’re not going to have a season. Everyone was super devastated.


“It was really unfortunate. The seniors, we had a really good group of seniors that year and we were all super bummed for them and just overall how we wouldn’t have a season that year. It was just really devastating for all of us.”

Fargo Shanley's Ella Frisk fires a shot past Bismarck's Emmery Schmitz during quarterfinal play in the North Dakota state girls soccer tournament at the Starion Sports Complex in Mandan on Thursday, June 2, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

Fast forward to this spring and those athletes who were freshmen in 2020 may be facing a similar situation during their senior seasons.

No, there’s not another pandemic on the way, but this year’s never-ending winter has hindered the start to spring seasons. Call it SNOWVID-23.

Sports won’t be completely wiped like they were in 2020, but with heavy snow still on the ground, temperatures finally beginning to rise and flooding on the way, many of this year’s senior athletes are feeling what they felt as freshmen three years ago.

“The COVID year and this year are more similar than you think, to be honest,” Quade said. “All of the guys coming off of spring break were so excited to get started. But knowing in the back of our minds, we know that we might not be able to be outside until the beginning of May. It gives the same feeling like we are never going to play.”

Moorhead Blues' Gavin Quade pitches against Perham in their quarterfinal Division I Sub-State 14 baseball tournament game Thursday, July 21, 2022, at Matson Field, Moorhead.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum

While playing games isn’t in the cards quite yet, the least each athlete can do is use the downtime to practice. For golfers — like West Fargo Sheyenne senior and defending Class A champion Nate Peyerl — they have indoor golf simulators and driving ranges, such as south Fargo’s Suite Shots, to use to their advantage.

“My coach put it like … we can look at it two ways,” Peyerl said. “We can either sit there and whine about it or we can use this time to practice and get better. So I just think we’ve got to keep going and the snow will melt when it melts.”

Sure, it sounds crazy to draw any sort of parallel between a global pandemic and winter weather. That’s why Moorhead girls lacrosse senior Sophia Swenson is looking at the situation with positivity.


“I think we just need to have patience right now,” Swenson said. “Everyone wants to play and we’re all in the same boat. This is not like freshman year. This is completely different. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. We will get to go outside, we will get to play on the turf, we will get to play games. I just have to keep telling myself that. Yeah, it sucks right now. But in the long run, we will still get to play. It’s just trying to have a positive outlook.”

Asked if they’d support a later start to the seasons, opinions varied.

“I kind of like (boys golf) in the spring,” Peyerl said. “It’s unfortunate and just kind of where we live, but a later season could be a solution. It’s just the way it goes up here kind of.”

“Yeah, I would support a later (soccer) season,” Frisk added.

West Fargo Sheyenne's Nate Peyerl watches his final approach shot during the North Dakota Class A boys golf tournament at Rose Creek Golf Course in Fargo on Wednesday, June 8, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

The snow will eventually melt and the turf fields and golf courses will be playable. When that day comes, there will be plenty of eager student-athletes ready to finally begin their senior seasons.

“We’re kind of just thinking as a team,” Frisk said. “The practices are good and we’re kind of having a closer bond with that. You can’t really do anything about it, you can just keep practicing and keep having a good attitude about it. Eventually, we’re going to get a few games in. But we’ll take what we have at least.”

“I am super excited for the season to start,” Quade added. “I feel like I've prepared myself really well for this season and not just myself, but the team is looking really solid. We have a lot of young guys coming up through the program that are very good who will help our team be successful.”

Swenson and Peyerl shared similar sentiments.


“I am so excited,” Swenson said. “I can’t wait to use what I’ve learned the last four years and put it into this season. Yeah, there are some nerves but I am just ready to finally use everything I’ve learned and put it into the season.”

“It should be really fun,” Peyerl said. “I’m looking forward to the season. I think we’ve got a good team this year and I’m just looking forward to it.”

Ryan Spitza joined The Forum in December 2021 as a sports reporter. He grew up in Marquette, Mich., a city of 20,000 on the southern shore of Lake Superior. He majored in multimedia journalism and minored in public relations at Northern Michigan University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in May 2019. While attending college, Spitza gained real-world experience covering high school and college athletics for both The Mining Journal and The North Wind.

Spitza can be reached at 701-451-5613 or Follow him on Twitter @ryspitza.
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