Story by Gracie Hine

For the last time, players untied their shoes, took off their uniforms, and exited the locker room ending their tenure as a student-athlete at Dutch Fork. In a year full of lasts, many athletes played in what would be their final game over the past year. After four years of putting their blood, sweat, and tears into their respective sports, it all comes to an end in what is undoubtedly an emotional moment for each senior athlete.

“Having played varsity soccer for the last four years, it has meant the world to me in terms of my focus and work during the pre-season and into the season itself,” soccer player Grayson Horton said, “I will miss the long bus rides and the small moments with my teammates as it brought a great deal of joy to share the experience with everyone.”

Over the course of a high school career, many memories are made that will stay with the athletes from now all the way into their adult lives. Whether it is winning a state championship or bonding with the team , the time spent as a student-athlete has its fair share of memorable moments. As each senior athlete prepares to graduate, they reflect upon those moments favorably.

What I’m going to miss the most about playing is the small things like rebound drills and dribbling drill with my team and coach,” senior basketball player Justen Chatman said, “I️ already miss everything about high school basketball.”

Playing a sport is  time consuming, oftentimes taking up a large portion of the student-athletes time. Now that senior year is coming to a close, it means that a major part of the ordinary lives for the seniors is as well.

“Of course I’m sad, but I’m extremely grateful for DF athletics and all the opportunities it has given me,” senior cheerleader Ally Neilsen said, “I’ve learned teamwork and leadership because of cheer and with being on varsity for 5 years it’s like leaving a huge part of my life behind. I’m excited to move forward but I won’t ever forget what it’s taught me.”

The Dutch Fork uniform means more than just something worn while out on the court or field. To many athletes, they see it as a sense of pride, something that they wear to represent not just the athletic department, but the school as a whole.

“Being in a DF uniform really allowed me to take pride in my school,” senior football player Ford Williams said, “Performing in front of everyone and seeing the Friday night lights end was really eye opening, because you hate the work and stress being put on you, but you know that in the end it was all worth it. I’d go through all of it again.”

As the student-athletes have their eyes on the gradation stage at Colonial Life Arena on June 8th, they leave behind productive and memorable careers at Dutch Fork High School. Although they won’t wear  the Dutch Fork jersey again, the memories made will stay with them for the rest of their life. With that experience comes wisdom, as well as advice for the rising seniors set to take their place.

“Next year’s seniors need to soak up every moment possible because senior year is so quick,” senior cheerleader Elizabeth Manganello said, “and before they know it, it will all be over.”

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