He pulled into the driveway, and asked her to come outside.
Keeping within social distancing norms, Twin Lakes’ David McFadden wanted — heck, needed — to talk to Gabi Lane. The head softball coach spent multiple years as an assistant and was getting his first crack at the top spot. The senior was expected to help guide a smaller but experienced squad to at least a sectional championship game.
And it was all gone after Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Thursday that schools would not reopen for this academic year. Shortly after, the Indiana High School Athletic Association sent out its own news release cancelling all spring sports tournament series events for the 2019-20 school year.
So McFadden went to see his players, specifically the senior class of Cassie Cannon, Lane and Kaylie Stachelski.
“He stopped by just to tell Gabi thank you for everything she has done for him and how bad he felt about what happened to the softball season,” wrote Kristi Lane, Gabi’s mother, on Facebook. “As a parent, it meant so much.
“Yes, we understand it’s what is best, but it hurts just the same. … These seniors are allowed to be angry and sad. The season that seemed would sparkle bright quickly turned into ‘rusty waters.’ But tonight’s visit from (McFadden) seemed to ease her sadness.”
McFadden also met with Stachelski and contacted Cannon before leaving what he called a long voicemail, with plans to connect again.
“Sucks and was hard to do. Teared up a bit,” McFadden said of the visits. “They deserve more. Gabi Lane is a superhero woman.”
Two weeks after the IHSAA made an initial decision to suspend things until May 1 and following another directive/decision from Holcomb, it’s all over. As expected, student athletes across White County are upset. Who could blame them? I understand and empathize, even while taking a “big-picture approach” as our nation faces a pandemic of colossal proportions that is unlike anything seen in decades, if not a century.
It’s incredibly heartening and soothing to see that, to their credit, many athletes also understood the circumstances. Some drew from the greatest “coachspeak” of all time — overcome adversity — to see the glass as both half-full and half-empty.
Once again, we reached out to any athlete who wanted to — react, vent, whatever — as well as all the athletic directors and spring sports coaches. Here are their responses, edited for grammar and clarity and listed in alphabetical order.
Twin Lakes athletic director
“I feel very bad for our spring sports athletes, especially the seniors. Also, the coaching staffs, the parents ... everyone involved.
Our girls tennis and boys track teams were looking to defend sectional championships. Our boys golf was looking to have an outstanding season as well. Softball and baseball teams we’re going to be good, too.
Never in anyone’s wildest dreams was something like this a possibility.”
Tri-County baseball coach
Obviously my heart goes out to the seniors. They worked so hard to come up short on their senior year. I’m not talking just the four from TC, but everywhere. I know this was a very difficult decision made by the ones involved. I wish all of the 2020 seniors the best and I know we/they will overcome this and come out stronger.
Senior, North White baseball
“I don’t know every word to use right now. Distraught, dismal, and deprived are all words that come to mind when thinking about it, though. Now I truly won’t ever get to step foot on that field one more time. Field ground or fly balls from Q (Coach Kirk Quasebarth) and TR (assistant coach Tony Rodgers). Swing a bat in the cages. None of it. It’s all been taken away. Fifteen years. FIFTEEN YEARS!
“I’ve been hitting a ball off a tee and fielding ground balls since I was 3. All of it was supposed to lead up to this year. My senior year. The year that every athlete looks forward to. The year that we are ‘the big dogs’ and have all the underclassmen looking up to us. The year that we have a night dedicated to us and acknowledges our accomplishments. The year that we feel the most important. And you mean to tell me I don’t get to have it? The thing I wanted more than anything in this world? A chance to play the sport I’ve devoted a part of my life too? It’s just gone. All I can say is damn. My heart hurts.”
Senior, Twin Lakes track
“It’s heartbreaking. No more prom, baseball games, track meets, etc. We feel robbed, because a special moment in life was cancelled.”
Senior, Tri-County softball
“I have a lot of thoughts about not being able to play softball. It’s so sad that they are taking away the sports that we love and look forward to all year long. I understand they are trying to to keep us safe, but it hurts. This year my fellow seniors and I were so excited for this season, we helped out coach with our new jerseys and new gear and constantly talked about how we wanted a better team.
“I was looking forward to playing in the rain, cheering on my teammates and playing the sport I love. I have been playing softball for about 10 years and I didn’t get the ending I hoped for. I will never get another home game or a fun bus ride to an away game. Softball has been such a big part of my life and I am so upset I didn’t get to play one last time with my team. The fact that I will never play a (high school) softball game again is heartbreaking.”
Senior, Frontier softball
“I am truly heartbroken. As soon as I read the article, my mind went numb. Everyone says that sports aren’t everything. While I completely agree, without softball, I would not be who I am today. Just realizing that I don’t get to play my last season, the one I’ve worked my butt off these past three years, brings tears to my eyes. What hurts the most is that none of us can even say goodbye. We aren’t allowed to get the closure we need to walk away. Everything ended so abruptly that we are purely in shock.
“Knowing that the many seniors before us had their chance to shine and the many seniors after us will too makes this whole process a lot more difficult. I am lucky enough to be able to continue my softball and academic career at Huntington University, so I am trying my best to look on the positive side. In the end, God has a plan and Earth is in its stages of healing, so it’s just a matter of how long.”
Tri-County athletic director
“Having the spring sports season cancelled is very disheartening. We have had athletes, especially seniors, working very hard all year to be able to participate for the Cavaliers this spring and are not going to get this opportunity. Obviously it is very tough news for the seniors. For many, their athletic careers are over. We wish not only the Tri-County seniors, but also all of the local seniors, the best of luck in their future endeavors.”
Senior, Twin Lakes golf
“Tough scene. Honestly really tough. It’s April 2 ... postseason was set to start early June, give or take a few days. Did the IHSAA jump the gun? I guess we’ll find out. I am thinking maybe ... but I guess it’s better safe than sorry. Right?”
Senior, North White track
“So with the news coming out I’m sure we’re all heartbroken. Twelve years of training and it gets cancelled. This was the year for me to make it really far and it won’t happen. But life goes on and I’m sure we’ll look past this unfortunate event soon enough.”
Senior, Frontier softball
“When I first found out the news I was in shock and couldn’t even believe it had happened. After some time went by, family and friends started to contact me. At that point I lost it. I couldn’t believe my whole senior softball season, the one thing I was training and looking forward to for four years, was just taken from me so easily. I can still go out and throw a softball, but it’s not the same. It’s not the same without my coaches, teammates, family in the crowd, and a conference and postseason goal of winning the title. I know we will all get through this but it’s so hard to believe and see the posts that any of this is even real. I would do anything to go back and play another season of Frontier softball.”
Frontier softball coach
(Posted to Frontier Falcons Softball Facebook page)
“I am at an utter loss for words. I’m just going to leave this picture of the class of 2020 right here. (Heart emoji) you girls!”
Senior, Frontier softball
“You asked me at the beginning of the season how I thought the season was going to go. If you asked me the same question today, I would be lost with words. I felt confident and I felt relieved. Most importantly I felt happy. Softball is and will always be my best friend and will be a sport I am most passionate about. My teammates are my people. My coaches are my second moms and dads, and most importantly Frontier’s field is my home. To have to say goodbye to a home that is dearest to my heart is one of the most challenging things as a senior. Lucky I will be continuing my education and athletic career at Goshen College. I am forever grateful I will have an opportunity to still play. Frontier’s community has supported and loved this program through the wins and losses and gave us unconditional love. I am sad we will not get the opportunity to be able to see or get to make our community ever more proud.
“As a senior leaving my ‘legacy,’ I would like to say one last thing to my underclassman or to whoever wants to be part of such an impactful program at Frontier. Never forget to smile even when you feel like you can’t. Laugh A LOT and have a smile that spreads like wildfire and creates a bond with your sisters on the field to the left and right of you. Because I can easily say the teammates and people softball let me meet along the way of my journey are people I will always remember. I know they will always be a part of my family and will be sisters I will always keep around. Always remember who came before you and who left a legacy after you. Come in every game not cocky, but confident. I believe in every single one of you. You will always have a friend in me.”