It was announced yesterday by Kansas Governor Laura Kelly that there won't be any school for the rest of the school year in Kansas. Heartbreak is the first thing that I thought of as the Founder/CEO of Sports in Kansas. We created this platform in 2012 from the ground up to recognize student athletes across the state and tell their stories. I am someone that works closely with athletes/coaches/admins all day/everyday on the states largest social media platform for sports of nearly 250,000 followers and see/tell all of their stories on radio, tv, social media, website you name it. I've also got to see the passion of these kids in everything, not just sports, from being in over 50 high schools this school year on the "Think Before You Post" power of social media tour as those are also currently on hold until next school year. It's opened up my eyes on how many respectful and great kids we have across this state. They are the future. We see all their social media posts, hard work, dedication etc. I become attached to the towns, teams, schools, coaches, athletes, you name it.
After exchanging messages with a good friend and high school athletic director/coach in Southeast Kansas yesterday (that has a senior son in a Kansas high school) I teared up a little bit, not going to lie, and I dont ever get emotional. I still really don't believe all of this and it seems like a bad dream. Yes, sports, school, prom, graduation aren't everything but in their world they are, especially at this time. I thought about my senior year and how awesome competing in the state track meet was in front of 25,000 people, prom, graduation etc. You remember all of that for the rest of your life. I graduated with 56 people at Frontenac High School and went to school with all of them in basically the same connected building from K-12. The 2020 seniors walked out of their high school for the last time without evening knowing it. Prom, sports, graduation and the last couple of months of experiences with the friends you grew up with..all gone. For right now, everything is kind of put on hold in the future of some of these kids. Some needed this spring year to land a sports scholarship. Some of them needed that scholarship as their only way to get to afford college. The options still may be there as college coaches are also adapting to this as well on how they are recruiting or finding kids. A lot of it will have to be online and past video etc. We are also going to try to do our best in several things we have planned (might be a testing combine at a much later/safer date for athletes etc.) For right now all we have to help is our platforms at Sports in Kansas to depend on. It's also heartbreak for parents. The biggest protectors and supporters of their kids that won't get to see or experience their kids one last time doing what they love. It's heartbreak for teachers, administrators, grandparents, brothers, sisters, media outlets, fans etc. Everyone involved is experiencing this. Some of the things we saw yesterday were just pure heartbreak. To give you an impact on the posts regarding all of this at Sports in Kansas one post yesterday alone reached 675,000+ people, had over 5,400 shares on Facebook, 6,500 on Instagram, 4,295 likes/retweets on Twitter. Here were some reactions across the state.
"Just like we tell our ahletes all the time, you never know when your last rep will be in a practice/game so take advantage of every opportunity you get."
"This is a sad and unfortunate situation. One thing we always talk about is enjoy the journey, make the most of your opporunities because it may be your list. Unfortunately for our seniors across the state of Kansas it is. God bless all our seniors and thank you for all the great moments and memories."
"We were born with a tragedy (9/11) and now our senior year ends with a tragedy."
"We brought kids into this world during 9/11 with our kids being born right before or after it. As parents we worried about what kind of world we were bringing them into and now as they leave us as adults we worry about what kind of world we are going into."
Sports coverage will certainly be different for the next several months at Sports in Kansas and again I feel awful for the experiences that the kids won't get back. We had several preseason features planned for spring sports and that doesn't have to change. What we also want to do is highlight kids off the playing field as well. There are so many other things in life, rather than just sports, that are going to take these kids a lot farther than sports will. It's so hard without sports right now as they keep us competitive, working hard, build character, teamwork, ambitition, you name it there are a lot of great lessons learned.
Something that has been so popular for the last eight years at Sports in Kansas and is our #1 viewed thing on the website, besides all-state teams, is our Faces in Kansas feature. We highlight a breakout athlete across the state, more so on their athletic achievements in the past. We tell the story of a high school kid in Kansas whether he/she is from a town of 200 or 100,000. It's incredible the viewership and the shares these get, whether thats a 6-man football player or a 6A track athlete. We are going to roll out a new feature immediately called Seniors in Kansas over March, April, May and June of 2020. Our plan is to feature a couple of seniors (boys and girls) every single day across the state of Kansas for their achievements on the field and off the field over the next 90 days or so. While we won't have the opportunity to feature every great story out there we want to feature as many as we can. Not everyone will have the opportunity to be featured and selected but our staff will go through the nominations and pick what we think is a great story or a deserving student-athlete, we want to feature all-state athletes, scholar-athletes, team managers, student trainers, someone that has overcome obstacles etc. There are a lot of fascinating stories across the state that can be told for these seniors. Nomination criteria is below. Nominations can be emailed to email@example.com (nominations with just a first and last name of someone with school won't be looked at, we need info on WHY?)
Not required but at least one of the things we are looking for in the student
-Multiple sport athlete preferred but not required
-All-State of potential all-state athletes we haven't featured on Faces in Kansas yet
-GPA, Clubs, Involvement in School
-Off the court achievements, role model, good citizen
-Support staff (student managers, trainers etc.)
-A story we need to hear
SENIORS IN KANSAS NOMINATION can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
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