STONINGTON — Stonington High senior Sarah Flaukus misses all the things that student-athletes were deprived of thanks to the coronavirus shutdown.
"I miss my friends at practice. I miss goofing off. I miss focusing and I miss doing the drills. And I really miss playing the games and being in competition," said Flakus, who would have been the returning first baseman for the Bears softball team this season. "I played field hockey, too. And I was sad to see that end. But I was excited about getting back into softball."
It's been quite the senior year for Flakus. She was Class S All-State and All-ECC for the field hockey team, anchoring the team's defense as a center back.
She was the school's CIAC scholar-athlete recipient. And last week, she received the Kenny-Daly Cup as the top female senior athlete at the school.
But none of it stopped the sting of losing the softball season to the pandemic, which canceled spring sports.
"It was upsetting," Flakus said. "I was really sad about it. I've been playing with these girls for 10 years. I wanted to have one more last year with them. When we first left school, I was concerned but still had hope that we would have some kind of season."
Stonington finished 11-12 last spring, losing in the first round of the Class M playoffs to No. 3 Lewis Mills, 3-1.
The Bears lost thee seniors that figured prominently on that team. Stonington was returning most of last year's squad with hopes for a better season in 2020.
"I was very excited. We had a young team last year and we would have been good this year," Flakus said.
In the fall, Flakus will attend American University in Washington, D.C., where she will major in strategic communications. Her career options are still open for now.
In addition to the pandemic, the Class of 2020 has seen four Minneapolis police officers charged in the death of George Floyd on May 25. A handcuffed Floyd died after when one of the officers pinned him to the ground with a knee to the neck. The incident has led to protests and demonstrations throughout the country and the world.
What would Flakus tell our political leaders if she could talk with them?
"I would remind them that it's important that they listen to what their citizens are saying. They need to listen to Black Lives Matter and all the people," Flakus said. "Empathy is a trait we should strive to have. They should put themselves in other people's shoes."
Flakus said she has grown during her time at Stonington.
"Stonington High has helped me learn leadership through sports and different clubs," she said. "I've learned to lead others."
What advice would she give to an incoming freshman?
"I would say don't be scared of upperclassmen or teachers. As a freshman, I was scared of the big kids and found them to be intimidating," Flakus said. "My sister [Abby] was an upperclassmen and I got to know some of her friends. Being a part of different organizations helps with that. Join as many things as you can."
This class will not experience many of the typical events that high school seniors enjoy.
"I am very upset about all that," Flakus said. "These are things seniors have looked forward to the whole year. Having that ripped away is hard. We'd have virtual events and they are nice, but it's not the same."