A heartfelt letter to basketball athletes helps put tournaments into perspective

(David Johnson/davidjohnsonphotography.org)

On Friday afternoon, about 14 hours or so after the news that the remainder of the state basketball tournaments had been canceled, Springfield science teacher Van Walker published a letter to all Baca County basketball athletes to express admiration for their leadership.

It's a letter which helps put the COVID-19 pandemic into perspective.

Walker wrote: "You may not be able to talk about that championship game in 2020, but you will be able to tell your children and grandchildren that you were an integral part of a far greater team that played a critical role in slowing the 2020 pandemic in Colorado, the United States, and perhaps the world."

Baca County — located in the Southeast corner of the state, along the border with Kansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico — had three teams still alive in the Final 4 round: Springfield and South Baca in the Class 1A girls tournament, and Walsh in 1A boys. Springfield's girls hadn't made the tournament in 38 years.

The letter is addressed to Baca County's basketball athletes, but we are sharing it here as the sentiment expressed within applies to all of our athletes across the state.

Walker's full letter, published on Springfield's website, is below:

To all Baca County state basketball tournament athletes, coaches and their families:

Congratulations on your accomplishments and the numerous hours each of you has sacrificed to reach the pinnacle of your season, and perhaps, your high school athletic endeavors. Understandably, each of you is disappointed that your seasons were not able, due to circumstances far beyond any one person's or one organization's control, to culminate those efforts in the traditional format. No amount of words can describe what you are feeling and experiencing nor can they soothe that pain.

However, please look at yourselves as the leaders that you are. Your leadership, as part of a team, has enabled you to accomplish your basketball goals, and today you distinguish yourselves as leaders of a much larger team; the leaders of the worldwide health crisis team. Today, your selflessness, your optimism, and your strength of character demonstrate powerfully, to everyone in our state and beyond, that you, as leaders, will always choose the correct course of action, rather than despair, that you will always elect to maintain a professional, winning disposition over the louder negativity of the masses and you will persevere through this crisis and others that may assail you or any teams with which you affiliate, through your indomitable spirit. The world needs leaders like you especially today and in the midst of uncertainty; your actions are the compass that guides, reassures, and inspires others to unify, to cooperate, and to overcome.

So while you are unable to grasp the very prize that you desired and in the manner in which you had envisioned, now you have stepped into history on a much larger scale. You may not be able to talk about that championship game in 2020, but you will be able to tell your children and grandchildren that you were an integral part of a far greater team that played a critical role in slowing the 2020 pandemic in Colorado, the United States, and perhaps the world.

Your selfless actions are commendable and reflect great credit upon each of you. We look upon each of you with tremendous approbation, we extend our admiration to each of you, and we are grateful to have you as leaders in Baca County.

With Admiration and Respect,

Springfield High School