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Pahrump Valley’s alumni coaches empathize with players

Before the schools were closed, spring sports were shut down, first by Pahrump Valley High School, then by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association.

It was a bitter pill to swallow, and everyone had empathy for the players whose seasons came to a quick end. And while most coaches have been involved in athletics for a long time, at least two of them really could put themselves in their players’ places because they had been in those places, playing for Pahrump Valley High School.

Softball coach Cassondra Lauver is a 1995 PVHS graduate, the school’s female athlete of the year then. As the parent of a senior and the coach of some of the current Trojans going back to when they were 11 years old, the end of the season was especially difficult to handle for her.

“I feel like they do understand there’s a bigger picture here as far as public safety, but I still know their hearts are just so sad because this is not the way they were supposed to finish,” Lauver said. “My heart just breaks for them.

“I think that it’s absolutely devastating.”

While the baseball team learned about the news on their bus while they were at the Route 66 Baseball Classic, the softball team learned about it at home. After all, it was spring break.

“We were going to practice on that Thursday, and we were supposed to go to Utah on Saturday morning,” Lauver recalled. “On Wednesday we had a few girls show up. It wasn’t a structured practice, it was just ‘come down and get a few swings in.’ So Needles was the last time we were together as a team.

“I didn’t get to have a face-to-face conversation with my team about this. It was just the messaging across social media, text messaging, email and that kind of thing. We didn’t have that time to be together and console each other.”

And consolation was necessary. For the seniors, their final high school season was stopped with no clue as to if or when it would resume. For the entire softball team, their season of playing as the defending 3A state champions was stopped.

“As a coach and the parent of a senior, and the coach of a lot of these girls since they were 11, it’s so disheartening and heart-wrenching,” Lauver said. “It’s devastating for them.”

At home, the effects of the news were easily visible on Skyler Lauver’s face.

“She was, I think, stunned and dumbfounded, and that turned into heartbreaking tears that didn’t stop for quite some time,” Lauver said of her senior daughter. “And a lot of fear about what was going to happen to the rest of the season, what potentially could happen next year.”

The younger Lauver is going to play for the College of Southern Nevada next season, if all goes well by then.

With the baseball team, assistant coach Drew Middleton could place himself in the players’ position easily. A 2014 graduate of PVHS, Middleton played first, third and pitched as a Trojan, and the thought of the season being taken away was hard to take.

“It’s tough being a senior, just knowing that this could be it,” Middleton said between March 14 games at Arizona’s River Valley High School. “You come out and you work so hard all preseason to ramp up for this, and you go into your first weekend, get two innings in, and then you hear this might be it. That might be your high school season out the window.”

When the news came down, the schools were still open, leaving players and coaches to wonder why sports were shut down.

“You don’t get to make a decision for yourself, someone else is making that decision for you higher up,” Middleton said. “Is that fair?”

He also noted this isn’t the first time fears of a health crisis dominated the headlines.

“We went through the swine flu back in middle school,” Middleton said. “It was severe and people talked about it, and it broke out, but it never got to this point.”

Both Lauver and baseball coach Brian Hayes tried to arrange games in those days before the decision was made to shut down the season — and the schools — statewide.

“We were told that the district was going to put the travel ban in place,” Lauver said. “Once that occurred, we frantically tried to reach out to other coaches in Clark County and tried to create some kind of five-game round-robin to replace the tournament we were going to miss out on, or jump into someone else’s tournament to see if we can make up those games.

“I had already spoken with head umpires and quite a few coaches, and among the coaches we were getting things put into place, and then they came down with the entire state is going to shut down, so that was the end of that idea.”

Lauver didn’t even get the chance to see all of her players in action. The Pahrump Valley freshmen, led by assistant coaches Sara Coleman-Colucci and Susan Toomer, played at Bishop Gorman while the Trojans sent two other teams to Needles, California. They came back to spring break and then never went back on the field.

“I thought this was some kind of bad dream,” Lauver said. “It seemed like every few hours it would change.

“It’s unbelievable that potentially our season might not happen.”

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