"It's devastating," Weed High School baseball senior Chris Dahmen said. "It was shaping up to be a really big year for our team."
When Chris Dahmen was 3-years-old, his grandfather gave him a big plastic orange baseball bat that he adored.
"I just loved baseball after that," he recalled.
Chris would go out to the yard and have batting practice, or throw the ball with his grandad. He has many fond memories of working with his grandfather on how to catch, which helped hone his skills to become a catcher.
While he tried other sports like golf and basketball, “it never felt the same,” for Dahmen, who decided that his focus was to become the best baseball player he could be.
Now 18-years-old, he is a senior baseball player for the Weed Cougars and has been a member of the varsity team all four years.
Unfortunately for Chris and high school senior athletes across Siskiyou County and the nation, their dreams of completing their final year of high school sports are in serious jeopardy as sporting events have been called off for the foreseeable future due to the COVID-19 virus.
Players and coaches are facing the sobering reality the season will be delayed and could eventually be called off entirely.
"It’s devastating," Dahmen said. "It was shaping up to be a really big year for our team."
With everything in the news and reports last week that COVID-19 was spreading in California, he knew spring sports would likely be canceled for the foreseeable future, sooner rather than later.
On Thursday during practice, head coach Josh Oates passed on the news that games had been canceled, and there would be no contests until at least March 31.
"I was expecting it," Dahmen said. "I knew it was only a matter of time.”
Oates said it has been challenging to know the season may not take place, and his senior players may not play another high school baseball game again. “It’s all hard to believe,” he said. “It’ was hard to tell the kids the news on Thursday and put into words what was happening.”
Jackson May is a senior member of the Mount Shasta Bears baseball team. He and his teammates were preparing last week to head o a tournament in Colusa when the word came down that they would not be heading down and that games were called off until the end of the month, and perhaps longer
“It's all pretty crazy," May said. "I can't really describe it.”
May said the news has been “devastating” to him and his fellow seniors knowing they may have already played their last baseball game in high school.“I’ve been playing baseball since I was six-years-old. I love it," he said. "
While May plans to perhaps play football in college, this was likely the last time he would play baseball competitively."I'll definitely miss it," May said. There’s not much you can do but move on.”
Although there is still a possibility some games may be played, May said while "I'm hoping for the best," he understands with how things are progressing with COVID-19 that more matches taking place this season may not be in the cards.
Dahmen said that it would “mean the world to me” to Hare him and his fellow seniors, such as his good friend Alex Guzman, who also has played for the Cougars all four years to have at least one more home game in front of family and friends.
“I’m still hoping we can play enterally,” he said.
After graduation in June, Chris plans to join the Navy and hopes to still find time to play baseball while in the service.
On Monday, the school was closed until at last the end of March, which means there can be no practices.
Chris plans to still prepare and will work by himself and with a small group of friends to keep in baseball shape by doing daily baseball drills.
“I want to be 110 percent ready if games resume,” Dahmen said.
Oates said he is connecting with his players through Google and sending them baseball videos and advice on how to keep practicing as if the season will resume.
Last week, the Cougars baseball team was supposed to help out a Weed Historic Lumbertown Museum fundraiser dinner sponsored by the Sons of Italy. The team works three dinners like this each year for the Sons of Italy, a fundraiser for the program. Due to COVID-19 concerns, while the dinner was not called off, it was decided they need not want to risk the possibility of exposing a fair share of senior citizens at the dinner,
“We look forward to it every year,” Oates said. “It’s a weird situation."
Oates said he still has hope they will play this season and is anxiously watching the next few weeks to see how things play out
“I feel bad for these kids,” he said. “ They have worked so hard. I just hope they have more chances to play this season.”
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