Editor’s note: Since being part of a high school sports team isn’t just about competing in scheduled events, the Daily Herald is going behind the scenes and telling a little bit of the stories of our 2020 spring athletic squads here in Utah Valley. To do that, we are having team captains describe their teams, talk about favorite experiences and relate lessons learned.
Payson head baseball coach Hadley Thorpe remembers when the word came down on March 13 that the spring sports were going to be postponed as part of efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19.
When the Lions got invited to get out on the field once more for an early game on March 14 at Skyridge, Thorpe said senior infielder and captain Reed Slack was driven to make it happen.
“Reed was the first one to respond and start calling his teammates to make sure we could get that one last game in,” Thorpe said in an email. “It really showed us how invested he was in the season and how much it meant to our seniors.”
Slack said in a phone interview that he didn’t know when he would get to play again and he just wanted to take advantage of every opportunity.
“It sucked knowing that it could be my last time ever playing baseball as part of a real team,” Slack said. “Being a senior, I thought it would be a good experience to just get after it and get one more game in before things went to the unknown. It was a fun experience, trying to get all the boys together to go make the most of it.”
Thorpe said he had seen the senior make some big strides as he started the 2020 campaign.
“Reed has come a long way from where he was at last year,” Thorpe said. “He has worked really hard in the off season to become one of our best hitters. He was hitting .458 through the nine games we were able to play this season. He set the bar for how everyone in our program worked during winter workouts and into the season. He showed the younger kids how to work hard in practice and in school. He is an awesome student and makes a huge difference on and off the field for Payson High School.”
Slack said that one of the best words to describe the Lion baseball program was “improvement.”
“We’ve made a big jump forward this year and we were able to compete a lot better than teams we’d had in the past,” Slack said. “I think that was pretty good for us to be able to say we were one of the best teams Payson High has had in a while and it has been fun to be a part of.”
Slack feels like the camaraderie of this year’s Payson squad has been key.
“Everyone knows each other and loves each other,” Slack said. “They would do anything for each other. It’s fun to be a part of this family bond that we have. We can tease each other but at the end of the day we are still best friends and brothers. It has been so fun to be with these boys, even for a short period of time.”
He takes his position as captain seriously even though he’s not sure what is going to happen and if there will be any opportunities to play again.
“If we do play, I want to make sure my team is ready and my guys are ready to go,” Slack said. “I’ve been doing stuff on my own while encouraging the guys to do stuff on their own as well. I want to make sure everyone is still positive and doing well.”