The last year of high school athletics has been a mixed bag of emotions. Seasons were postponed and the calendars were adjust as necessary as administrators and coaches were tasked with trudging the waters of an unprecedented global catastrophe.
But kids are resilient and a lot of the athletes around the state took the chance to expand their competitive nature and participate in as many sports as possible.
Strasburg's Garrett Gerrard was one of them. The onslaught of COVID-19 gave Gerrard the opportunity to compete in new situations and gave him a chance to contribute to high school athletics in a way that is dear to his heart, all after he had been diagnosed with Type I Diabetes.
Gerrard's mother passed away when he was just two years old, but he's known his entire life that that she a had a big passion for helping those with special needs. She was involved in the Special Olympics when their family lived in Hawaii. That desire appeared to be hereditary as Gerrard jumped at the chance to help the Strasburg unified bowling team when the season began earlier this year.
"It wasn't something I was planning on doing from the start," Gerrard said. "I was planning on taking the chance to just lift weights after school. But from prior experience that I had with special needs children, I just thought back to that and realized it was something I wanted to do."
His prior experience was working with a special needs baseball camp. He found immense pride in helping the kids find joy in the game and realized it was an experience that he wanted to continue when the opportunity to compete with the unified bowling team.
And he was naturally going to compete wherever he could. He was facing a personal challenge through it all as he got his diabetes diagnosis in his junior rear, right when the pandemic was starting to hit the United States.
"It was in February, right after basketball," he said. "I didn't want being a diabetic to be an excuse to not do anything."
So he powered on and competed in five sports throughout the year.
When football was initially pushed back to Season C in August, Gerrard found himself getting recruited to pick up the golf clubs and join the team on the links.
"Because I didn't have football, it was my first and only chance to play high school golf," he said. "I took it and I ended up competing at regionals."
He didn't quite qualify for the Class 3A state tournament at Dos Rios in Gunnison, but as luck would have it, the timing worked out well. At the time, COVID numbers had dipped and the CHSAA staff advocated for football to be moved back to the fall.
Gerrard jumped back onto the gridiron and was there when Strasburg advanced to the 1A title game against Limon. From there he went out for basketball. Strasburg made it to the 3A state tournament, but lost to Faith Christian in the first round.
He helped the unified bowling team advance to regionals and then as the weather got (somewhat) better, he was out for the baseball team. He plans on sticking with baseball through the duration of the spring, despite graduating from Strasburg earlier this month.
"It'd be hard to throw away an opportunity at my last chance to play a sport that I've played since I was four years old," Garrett said. "I wanted to embrace my final chance to play one of the sports that I love."
That's the epitome of his high school experience his senior year. Despite the challenges thrown his way from COVID, he was there every step of the way for his school and his teammates. And he'll have a story to tell years down the road when recollecting his high school experience.
"It'll be a pretty big one," Garrett said. "One, for having played five sports in one year and also for making it through a pandemic where we weren't in school every day. I wasn't able to build that camaraderie with my teammates when I wasn't sitting in the classroom with them."
But the kids all did okay. And Garrett has a senior year experience that he'll never forget.