Written by: Gracie Holder, CHS Senior
Although less appears to be going on during this season of pandemic, and the existence of countless unknowns continue to rise to the surface, there is one season that still seems to capture the attentiveness of many – Chisholm Longhorn Basketball.
The CHS Longhorn Basketball coaches and a few of their senior team members have agreed to be interviewed on their 2020-2021 season as it is one unlike any other; it taking place amid a global pandemic. Omitting, although not dismissing, the fact that this period of introduction to the COVID-19 virus has taken a toll on their season, both the players and coaches are aware of the reality of the arms of this pandemic being able to reach and affect not only their season, but the health of their players, family members, and community as well. The severity of this pandemic has led to rapid changes in education and extracurriculars across the globe. The CHS Longhorns, staff, and parents can vouch for this transition; however, certain unique aspects have derived from this era of uncertainty regardless, making the CHS Longhorn basketball season of 2020-2021 one to remember.
CHS girls’ basketball coach, Tana Turney-Gragg, relayed her coaching approach that especially applies to this year’s circumstances. “We knew going into this season that we would face adversity like no team has before. We try to approach every practice and game like it’s our last. We have already been directly affected by the pandemic with our varsity team being quarantined and having to miss our last four games before Christmas. I think the reality of that situation will make us all appreciate every moment we step on that court together from here on out. You definitely can’t take any opportunity, big or small, for granted this season,” Gragg said. Although this year’s conditions are certainly not ideal for athletes and coaches, they equally are not for others; nonetheless, there is value in this season of life and basketball. As Coach Gragg noted, an attitude of gratitude has been adopted by her athletes, in perhaps the most unpredictable basketball season and year of 2020-2021.
CHS boys’ basketball coach, Corey Miller, responded to the amount of adversity existent this year but moreover gave insight to the elements that are providing the team with an optimistic attitude during this season: “Many factors are keeping us hopeful during this very unusual season. Every school we’ve visited this year, and while at home, has set different protocols to keep everyone safe. From masks, sanitizing, and attendance, we have felt safe that we can continue to play the next game scheduled. My boys saw how last year the season had such an abrupt ending, and with our goal always being making it to the Big House, we don’t want that to happen this year. Every one of our athletes has done a great job of doing their best to social distance and follow those protocols that are in place, so we can play our schedule as intended.” Coach Miller also noted that, for him, this season is not only considerably different due to the virus but also due to personal, family matters: “This season has been especially significant for me, as I lost my dad in the off-season. He was always in the stands and always the guy to send me a text after the game to tell me what we should work on in practice the next day. The boys know that and have made sure that I’ve felt him this year. The first game at Alva they even kept the chair right beside me open just for him.”
Courtney Petersen, a senior for CHS Lady Longhorns, has been a varsity basketball member for the last four years. Her contributions to the team can numerically be represented by her nightly statistics on the court; however, a more distinct way to note Petersen’s dedication is through her relentless persistence. When asked about a particular team value that the CHS Lady Longhorn’s have embraced this season, Petersen noted, “Every year our team has a theme or motto to symbolize a goal or idea we want to strive for. The seniors were able to choose this year’s theme.” Petersen went on to indicate the acronym that was especially attributed to this season and their current circumstances regarding the pandemic. “LAST. L: learn A: and adapt S: successfully as a T: team,” Petersen said. She went on to describe its significance to her and her team members: “We created this because of the unfortunate circumstances we are encountering. We realize that things are going to be different this season, which will require us to adapt to the changes as a team.”
Heston Daniels, another senior on the CHS Longhorns boys’ basketball team, had additional inspiration that led to him characterizing what appeared as an inevitably challenging year as one of just the opposite as the CHS’s community spirit and support never ceases to motivate him and his teammates to play: “The best part about being a Longhorn during basketball season has to be the support from the community – whether it’s basketball, football, or any other sport, the community always shows up in any way they can.” The uniqueness of the CHS community endorsing athletes with their presence and spirit, even in the middle of what seems like global disorder and divide, is what gives the CHS athletes the ability to continue to strive for hope.
While this season of pandemic has certainly not been easy for those involved in the 2020-2021 Chisholm Longhorn basketball season, this period has allotted and developed a cognizance of admiration for the game of basketball that was conceived from this time of ambiguity like no other.