Another in The Journal’s two-month alternation on aerial academy chief athletes whose bounce seasons accept been concise because of COVID-19.
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It was his chief year, so Owen Valentine of Barrington was activity to do whatever it took to be on the field.
While arena football in the fall, Valentine suffered a accept injury. He approved to gut it out but was abortive as the abrasion beggared him of his adeptness to play. So he had surgery, alive he could adjust and be accessible for lacrosse in the spring.
It didn’t happen. COVID-19 beggared him of that chance.
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“This lacrosse aggregation — we’ve played calm aback we were in fourth grade, this aforementioned accumulation of guys,” Valentine said. “This season, we were activity to be one of the stronger teams. It’s adamantine to attempt with the clandestine schools in lacrosse but we were absolutely attractive to accomplish a run. My chief chic had like 16 guys in it who would be starters or abiding starters.
“We were attractive to accomplish a run and that was crushing.”
Valentine’s adherence to his teammates was amid his best traits.
The accept abrasion batty his football season. Valentine estimates the accept popped in and out seven times afterwards the antecedent abrasion but he capital to accumulate playing.
“We talked to his mother and ancestor at that point,” Barrington football drillmaster Sandy Gorham said. “He was abortive as a amateur because his accept was out and it didn’t accomplish sense. He had the anaplasty and didn’t comedy again.”
But he didn’t leave the team. Instead, Valentine showed up to every practice.
The Eagles weren’t in altercation for a appellation or in the average of a celebrated season. Those are the affidavit some kids try to latch assimilate teams aback they’re not playing. But Valentine, a captain, knew he still had assignment to do.
“I had obligations as a captain and it was aloof my adulation for the affairs and spending time with the guys,” he said. “I didn’t appetite to absence that chief season, which is what got me through it.”
“We do acquaint the kids,” Gorham said, “if you’re injured, you’re accepted to appear to practice. But aback it’s a season-ending injury, kids will abandon and won’t appear back.
“Owen led from the front. He led by example. … He was there every day.”
Valentine additionally was in adjust every day, alive to get aback for lacrosse. Adjust for any abrasion is never accessible but the admiration to be 100% so he could get through his chief division collection him to assignment as adamantine as possible.
About the time he was actuality austere to play, COVID struck. Valentine, who is headed to the University of Rhode Island in the fall, kept up with the news, and knew with winter sports not finishing tournaments, things didn’t attending good.
Just afore bounce sports were abeyant and social-distancing regulations were put into place, Valentine and some lacrosse teammates got together.
“It was a warmup and a shootaround affectionate of affair and we knew there was the abeyant of a cancellation,” Valentine said. “We knew it was a abeyant of not accepting a division anymore but we aloof capital to get out there.”
Valentine understands why there isn’t a bounce division but takes alleviation that it’s not aloof him and it’s not aloof Barrington and it’s not aloof Rhode Island.
“Literally every kid in the country is activity through the aforementioned thing,” he said. “It’s not one affair you’re abandoned with. Every kid from actuality to California is accomplishing it. It stinks but you accept to get accomplished it and do what needs to be done.”
Much like he did in football, Valentine will try to gut through the disappointment of missing the season. Sports is a big accord for him, and missing this season, in his chief year, is tougher than annihilation else.
“I don’t apperceive how a absolute graduation would feel, so I don’t apperceive if I’d absence that,” he said. “The Barrington after-prom is appealing epic, so that would be sick, but I’ll absolutely absence the division added than that. All my best accompany are on all these teams, so I’ll absence this the best because it’s such a big allotment of our lives.”
On Twitter: @EricRueb
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