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.
With a brand-new field and a brand-new attitude, the American Fork softball team was fired up for the 2020 season.
While those plans got derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cavemen didn’t lose their spirit.
“We are all really close,” American Fork captain Jenna Ward said in a phone interview earlier in April. “That’s something that has been really good for all of us. Everyone is friends with each other outside of softball, which makes the environment really good. We work really hard. When we all work together, it’s just really cool. We communicate really well, which shows on the field. I think we are a pretty strong team.”
Ward said juniors Hali Spencer and Kalli Rhoton as they have done an excellent job building up everyone around them.
“They are so hard-working,” Ward said. “If they weren’t on the team, I don’t think it would be the same. They are always keeping a positive environment and pushing us. They always keep things fun and they are always reaching out to everyone outside of softball. It’s been awesome for us to still try to stay connected.”
One of the keys for the Cavemen has been to do what they can to stay connected.
“We’ve done a few things,” American Fork captain Hallie Bezzant said. “We’ve done big group FaceTime chats. But it’s so weird and not what we’re used to.”
They’ve tried to be cognizant of the new restrictions but still enjoy being together.
“On Hali’s birthday, they put their cars in a circle and stayed 6 feet away from each other but still talked,” Ward said. “We did a TikTok that was softball related. The connection is really important and I’m really glad everyone has been making an effort to talk to each other.”
American Fork head coach Leslee Warr said this has been a tough challenge for her team and particularly for the captains.
“Our team captains this year are a little more reserved but have tried to step up during the offseason and motivate the underclassmen,” Warr said. “They were so excited to start the season and to be able to play on our brand-new field at American Fork High School. This whole situation has been very disappointing to them.”
Bezzant described it as being odd to be at her house for long periods of time during spring.
“Usually around this around this time of year I’m on the field every day for a few hours, gone all day,” Bezzant said. “This year is definitely different. It feels weird to be sitting at home and not playing, not being with the girls as much.”
But she said it has taught her to value all the good things she has in her life.
“You can’t take things for granted,” Bezzant said. “One day you will have it all and the next day you won’t. I’ve also learned to do things by myself. I have to rely on myself to go out and work.”
Ward agreed that this time has required individuals to decide what they really want for themselves.
“It takes a lot of self-motivation,” Ward said. “It’s up to me what my mindset is going to be through this and if I’m going to make it all a negative experience, or am I still going to practice and keep a positive mindset. Then I could look back and know that I became a better player, that I didn’t give that up. I made the best of it that I could. It’s about trying to find the good in any situation.”
Jenna Ward’s brother, Conner Ward, had to return early from his mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Ecuador because of the virus and she said he stuck being quarantined and not even able to do things he likes to do.
“Sure, it’s hard for me but I see that it is hard for everyone,” Jenna Ward said.