A thank you to the flag football seniors

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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.

And just like that, the flag football season ended as quickly as it began. The coronavirus pandemic quickly turned sheer excitement for the spring season into utter disappointment. As we mourn over the loss of what would have been a remarkable season, we should also take a look back at the even more remarkable rise of this year’s flag football seniors: Savannah Sclafani, Kelsey Zhen, Christine Schmitt, and Hudaiba Khatri. 

Savannah and Kelsey were the only seniors that have been on the team since freshman year and for the past three years they have given their complete dedication and uplifting energy. Though I have only been on the team since my sophomore year, it does not take long for one to see their beaming enthusiasm in everything that they do, whether it’s running practice, managing bake sales, or organizing team bonding activities. 

It is certain that Savannah, our second-year captain, and Kelsey, our would-be captain, would have been incredible. Time and time again, they have proved their leadership qualifications and passion for the sport— not to mention their wide receiving talent. 

One memory in particular highlights these girls’ commitment and undeniable talent. Last year, our game against Jamaica High School fell on the same date as their junior banquet. Despite the pouring rain and being tight with time, Savannah and Kelsey showed up and showed out. Being the troopers they are, Savannah and Kelsey shamelessly played the game wearing bright blue and pink frilled shower caps to protect their curled hair. These girls embody what it means to soldier through rain and mud. Did I mention that we won the game 20-0?

Personally, this memory not only speaks to their dedication and athletic talent, it emphasizes their admirable character. Savannah and Kelsey have the ability to turn any unideal situation into one that is humorous and light hearted, a life lesson we all need. 

Being the only freshman on the team her year, junior Olivia shares a special connection with Savannah and Kelsey as they are the only members left on the team to share the 2018 Division B Girls Varsity Flag Football Championship title. She reflected on her experience saying, “It’s crazy how time has gone by so fast. My first year on the team I was the only freshman, and even though the whole team really took me in, I always felt really close to Savannah and Kelsey, maybe because we were the closest in age? Whatever it was, I’m glad that we have the bond that we do.”

Likewise, Christine and Hudaiba shine through their team spirit and contagious energy. Though Christine only joined her junior year, she quickly turned the entire team into her fans. Though we were robbed of the chance to see Hudaiba dominate the field, she wasn’t any less a team mate when she was the manager. 

Spunk is the word I would use to describe Christine. She is so small, yet so full of energy. She is always ready to be screaming and cheering for the team and even during practice. Class of 2019 Alumna Kaitlyn Wu nicknamed Christine, “dancing queen,” as she was “never afraid to bust a move in the middle of the field.” Whether it was the TikTok we were learning that week or a really good song was playing, Christine was the first to be moving her shoulders and bobbing her head. 

No one rocks knee high socks as well as Christine. Perhaps it is also because she is a soccer star, but she has real pep in her step. Unfortunately, this year, we did not make it around to seeing Christine strut and be a starting snapper. 

As the manager, Hudaiba still possessed the vibrant enthusiasm and passion that made the team go round. Even though she technically did not have to, she cheered on the top of her lungs during touchdowns and incredible plays. True commitment is when you still show up to practices to help out by throwing around the ball. True commitment is helping out with bake sales and participating in team bonding when you are not required to. True commitment is when you are the manager and you go the extra miles. And that is exactly what Hudaiba did. 

Last year, I had an ACL injury that left me on the field crying and upset, and I recall Hudaiba comforting me before the game while the other girls were warming up. She just made small talk with me and tried to make me feel better. Though it may have been a seemingly small action that she may not even remember, it spoke volumes to me about Hudaiba’s compassionate nature. 

Sophomore Isabella Jimenez spoke on behalf of the team when she said the seniors “helped make the team such a positive environment and I’m definitely going to miss their energy and talent.” 

As this global pandemic continues to challenge our daily routines, the idea that life can be rough and unexpected is ever more present. But as Savannah and Kelsey teach us to flip negative circumstances into iconic moments, we will look back at this time and laugh. As Christine and Hudaiba show us how to be bold and kind, we will radiate the same to those around us. We thank you seniors because you show us that infectious laughter and joy can have just as much of an impact as a virus sweeping our nation. 

Photo courtesy of Kelsey Miu.