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Athletes express concerns over winter sports postponement

"This took the most toll on my depression"
Grand Rapids Union basketball players open up about postponement
Posted at 3:51 PM, Jan 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-28 16:45:07-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — As coaches, players, and parents have been documenting all over social media over the past several days since the postponement of winter sports, it's about more than just sports.

GR Union basketball player discuss the winter sports postponement

Athletes and coaches across the state are begging for a season and nobody understands the importance of sports better than Grand Rapids Union boys basketball coach, Brandoen Guyton.

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"They lost a classmate recently who was murdered," Guyton said. "They reached out to me and asked me if they could get into the gym and I said, unfortunately, no, there's no way we can get in the gym. I know what the gym means to them and why they were asking, it's a peace of mind."

It has not been an easy couple of months for seniors at Grand Rapids Union high school.

For many of them, like players all across the state, the basketball court is their escape from the world.

"I think sports, especially basketball has always been a source of consistency in people's lives," said senior, Adam Klaiss, "I think it's tough when we don't have that, to stay consistent in the rest of our lives, including school and our home lives."

Now, teams across the state are able to get back in the gym with non-contact practices, but without an official start date to their season, it's tough to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

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"It hurts," explained senior CJ Reaves, "we had a scheduled day to start, you got the kids excited, we were ready to play and got regrouped with our teammates only to get shutdown again, it's a repetitive thing that keeps happening."

And the Union players say they've experienced first hand what the postponement of winter sports have done.

"I really battle depression and I feel like this took the biggest toll on my depression since it started," added DaQuin Freeman, a senior forward, "I'm just trying to stay positive."

Athletes are also motivated to do better educationally during the season as well.

"Some of my friends, their motive is basketball, they focus on school because of basketball or sports," said CJ Reaves, a senior guard, "their reward was sports but they took that away."

And off of the floor, the players are feeling the effect as well.

"It impacted a lot of us because sometimes we don't have stuff to do at home," Union senior, DeShawn Williams said, "I would rather have basketball keep us from doing anything else, it's like a second home to us."

The Red Hawks are staying optimistic but admit it isn't easy keeping faith that a season will happen.

"We work hard to get eligible to play sports but if you take that away from us, some of us don't have a goal," Reaves added.

Now in his 13th season of coaching, Guyton says he's never experienced such a helpless feeling with his athletes.

"How do you keep them motivated? With four or five weeks of no-contact practices, no scrimmages, no games, how do you keep them motivated?"