The Class of 2020 knew it was unique.

Indeed it is, but not in the way any soon-to-be-graduate could have ever imagined.

For generations, even in times of war, illness and other upheaval, high school seniors played sports and graduated in front of their family and friends.

Not the Class of 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent response has cancelled the spring sports season, ended classroom teaching, has likely eliminated Proms and will either erase or delay in-person graduation ceremonies.

Understandably, the senior class is distraught over the unimaginable events of the past month, but they also are demonstrating perspective beyond their years and using their leadership skills to get through a most challenging time.

No headlines to steal

Cape Elizabeth senior Karli Chapin won’t have the chance to add to her big-game legacy this spring. File photo

The past two spring sports seasons have seen Cape Elizabeth senior Karli Chapin score huge goals at huge times to help the Capers  girls’ lacrosse team win the Class B state title.

Unfortunately for Chapin, and the sport, she won’t have an opportunity to steal the show again.

“I’m hanging in there,” said Chapin, who also scored a state game-winning soccer goal in overtime as a junior and led the girls’ basketball team to the tournament the past two seasons. “Everyone expected (the season to be cancelled), but when I found out, I was pretty upset. It doesn’t really seem real. These are weird times, but everyone is going through the same thing.”

Chapin, the daughter of longtime Capers’ girls’ team coach Kurt Chapin, has played lacrosse since she was a little girl. She joined the varsity team as a freshman, scored two goals in the Class B state final her sophomore year (Cape Elizabeth beat Yarmouth in overtime), then, as a junior, scored the tying goal late in regulation, then produced the winner in triple-OT as the Capers denied the Clippers on the big stage again.

Cape Elizabeth would have had a great shot to win a third straight crown, but that quest was halted before it ever began.

“I look forward to lacrosse season all year,” said Karli Chapin, who has stayed in shape by going on runs and playing at a makeshift gymnasium at home. “This season would have been a lot of fun.”

As a team leader, Chapin has reached out to her teammates, something she’s found therapeutic as well.

“I’ve been texting a lot of my teammates because it’s not just the seniors who are affected by this,” Chapin said. “I’ve been trying to keep their heads up. I miss having time with the team and playing lacrosse.”

Missing out on a lot

Cheverus senior Nate Rogers hoped to play for a championship contender this spring, but there will be no title for the Stags or anyone else in the state. Contributed photo.

Cheverus senior Nate Rogers fell in love with baseball not long after learning to walk and it’s been an integral part of his spring and summer ever since.

Rogers, who played in his hometown of Falmouth as a freshman and sophomore before transferring to Cheverus as a junior, hasn’t just had his moments as a player, but his family has also served as a host family for multiple Portland Sea Dogs players over the years, including a few who have gone on to Major League renown.

Cheverus, a perennial contender in Class A South, expected to be in the title mix again this spring under new coach Tony DiBiase, who has decades of coaching experience.

But last week, Rogers found out there will no cries of “Play Ball!” this season.

“Part of me knew (cancellation) was coming, but it hasn’t really sunk in yet,” said Rogers, who has also passed the time trying to stay in shape by working out at home. “It will when we’re stuck inside when it’s sunny and warm.

“This is my first season without baseball since I was four. We were excited for a new season. Especially with a new coaching staff. I’m heartbroken and my teammates share that feeling. They love baseball like I do. I think we’d be very competitive. We had good senior leaders and good underclassmen. We hoped to do some damage.”

Comeback denied

Greely senior Ellie Holt has overcome a knee injury and had dreams of a triumphant senior season. That season won’t be held. File photo.

Greely senior Ellie Holt was limited by a meniscus injury as a junior, but after surgery last summer, she’s back at full health and was hoping to lead Greely’s girls’ lacrosse team to a championship season, perhaps by dethroning Chapin and Cape Elizabeth along the way.

“The team was going to be good,” Holt said. “We worked so hard in the offseason to prepare. It’s tough to process it all. It seems surreal. I feel like I should be in school and at practice.”

Holt has lived and breathed lacrosse her whole life, as her mother, Dorothy Holt, is the longtime coach of the Yarmouth girls’ program.

This spring, she won’t get to play the game she loves.

“It’s definitely hard,” Ellie Holt said. “I hoped for the best, but expected the worst. I cried a lot when I first found out.”

Holt added that she and her teammates and coaches remain in touch and that has helped lessen the blow slightly.

“The coaches have worked hard to keep us together,” said Holt, who has helped pass the time playing lacrosse with her sister, Maggie. “We still talk as a team and keep connected. Talking with our other captains, Abby Taylor and Katie Bennert, has helped. We really wanted to leave a legacy as seniors.”

Silver lining

Unlike the majority of their teammates, Chapin, Holt and Rogers’ athletic careers aren’t finished and having the opportunity to step on to the diamond, or the field again is helping them stay focused and get through some difficult days.

“It’s hard not knowing what might have happened (this spring), but I’ve been lucky to have some great experiences (at Cape),” said Chapin, who will play lacrosse at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island next year. “I’m thankful I can play next year and I’m really looking forward to it.”

“I know that I’m very lucky to be able to keep playing my favorite sport,” said Holt, who recently committed to playing lacrosse at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut next year.

“Playing in college has been my goal my whole life and playing (Division II) baseball is a big accomplishment,” said Rogers, who will play baseball at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont next year. “This whole situation is so unique. I looked forward to senior year and to have it taken away is tough, but we understand there need to be precautions to keep everyone safe.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter:@foresports.

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