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There was a lot of traffic on the campuses of Sharyland Pioneer High School and Sharyland High school last week as the two schools held drive-thru parades to recognize their athletes for their accomplishments during the 2019-2020 school year.
Like most celebrations there were cheers, waves and smiles. I’m going to assume there were smiles; almost everyone was wearing a mask. Those masks did nothing, however, to derail the enthusiasm of the nights’ events. The festivities started last Wednesday at Pioneer High School and moved to Sharyland High Thursday night. Each sport had tables set up around their respective campuses parking lots decorated in school colors, with balloons, signs and on some, the trophies earned by particular sports over the course of the year. If the trophies were any indication, it was a good year for both schools’ programs.
But this night was about more than just celebrating games won over the year. It was, for many, the first time in months that players and coaches were face-to-face with each other since the pandemic shut events down in mid-March. Paired with the inability to have any “normal” type of opportunity to celebrate, the parades may have been just what the community needed.
Sharyland ISD Athletic Director Richard Thompson said each school had already produced a virtual sports banquet that could be viewed on-line but, “I wanted our kids to be able to see their coach and I wanted our coaches to be able to see their kids one last time before the school year ends.”
The vehicles of the participants in each parade, many of which were decorated as well, were queued up in the schools’ parking lots near where the tables and coaches were waiting. Once given the green light, each car drove through the parade route, often stopping for photos at the spot where the sport, or sports, the athletes had participated in over the course of the year had set up their display. Each was afforded the chance to have that face-to-face contact and a quick chat.
Ethan Lee, a senior from Pioneer who participated in football, basketball and golf for the Diamondbacks was thankful for the opportunity. “I thought it was a really great experience,” said Lee. “Seeing all my coaches, being able to talk to them again, hear their voices. They really did help me a lot throughout my high school career. It was good being able to thank them one last time.”
Anastasia Cruz, a senior from Sharyland High who played basketball and softball for the Lady Rattlers got the chance to not only see her coaches, but other coaches who were her teachers. There were principals and some of her teammates as well. “It was amazing to see everyone come together”, said Cruz. “Even though we weren’t close (parade participants were not allowed out of their vehicles), we were able to say “Hi”.” Cruz went on to say how the experience also allowed for the opportunity to make everyone realize they were not alone in this current situation.
Thompson, encouraged by the success of both the virtual banquets and the parades, would not rule out that the two become yearly events going forward.