Handball teammates give outgoing seniors a hand

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The COVID-19 pandemic has put the world on pause, and led to the cancellation of numerous events and activities. On March 12, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that PSAL activities were to be suspended indefinitely, and on March 15, it was announced schools would also be suspended. With the decision to not reopen schools for the 2019-20 school year, PSAL spring sports are effectively over. These also represent the last seasons for graduating seniors, who are not able to participate in their final year.

There are six seniors on the girls handball team: Maggie Cheng, Samantha Lee, Samantha Luna, Jaime Tran, Chloe Pan, and Kailey Van. They may not have all started on the team at the same time, but they intended to dominate and make the most of their last season. Unfortunately, the season was cut short and though we didn’t know it, March 11th would be our last day of practice together. However, this shortcoming does not undermine my, and the rest of the team’s, appreciation and connection to each of these girls. 

I joined the handball team during my sophomore year, so I was already familiar with some of the upperclassmen on the team. The first few weeks of practice were not easy; between the brutally cold weather and my overall inability to play handball, I reconsidered my decision to join  several times. Still, I saw how welcoming the girls, juniors at the time, were and how excited they were to have so many new players join the team. There was no pressure to be good at the sport; they were just excited for the new players to be there. Over the next few weeks, I grew closer to each girl and through the long van rides, matches, and practices, I realized that joining this team was not a mistake. These girls became the girls I spent most of my time with, and I knew that if I confided in them, I would receive love and support. 

Junior Selena Cheung, who is the only junior to have joined the team during her freshman year, expressed similar sentiments. She expressed her gratitude towards the seniors, saying, “Thank you for always greeting me with open arms anywhere and everywhere, never hesitating to give advice and being a great leader for us, on and off the courts. I’ll miss whenever you lent an ear or even just one side of an AirPod and blessed me with your presence. School will be so much more empty without these doting seniors. Stay strong and bright, I love you guys.”

Although I’ll miss each of the girls, I cherish the time I was able to spend with them and the lessons I’ve learned. Kailey’s unwavering kindness and genuine desire to connect with everyone on the team taught me about being more kind. Sam Luna’s bubbly, outgoing personality always brightened my day. Maggie and Chloe challenged me to perform better and work twice as hard. Jaime was always so supportive and never failed to make me laugh. Sam Lee taught me about being a leader and bringing a team together. 

My favorite memories of my sophomore year involve these girls; whether it was getting bubble tea in Staten Island or playing handball at Pomonok Playground until the sun set, they were there. As they graduate from the team, I only hope that I, with my teammates, can finish what they started. They were all leaders who brought the team together during every practice and every match. To each of the seniors: the team will miss you, and we promise to make you proud next year. 

Photo courtesy of Kristen Zhou.