By: Hannah Abbate Sterling, KS — April 24, 2018 7:54 p.m.
Senior day is probably one of the most emotional and important game days of the year. It is the one day to both celebrate and begin to say goodbye to the seniors whom the underclassmen have gotten to know so well. Last year, five graduates left the Sterling softball family. This year, the program must prepare to say goodbye to nine young ladies: Tiana Bonde, Allison Montion, Byanka Diosdado, Jenna Weimer, Dominique Salgado, Chica Bati, Danae Delgado, Alyssa Landeros, and Cassandra Estrada.
“I knew this moment was coming,” said Estrada, “and it has actually come a lot quicker than expected. I went into this year with a different mindset. Instead of worrying about playing time and stressing over stats, I chose to enjoy myself and leave everything I had out on the field each and every day, so that at the end of the season, I could hold my head high with no regrets. I know I will miss the sport, but I devoted more than half of my life to it and I am ready to enter into the next chapter of life that God has for me.”
The Warriors faced off against York College Monday afternoon at 3 and 5 p.m. Game one started off strong for both teams. However, the Lady Warriors were unable to push any runs across the plate, resulting in a 0-4 loss to the Panthers. In between games began all of the senior day festivities. It was truly a bittersweet moment for all of the girls. Every player that was escorted by their families onto the field was met with a tight hug from every one of their teammates. “I am grateful for the underclassmen that look up for me,” Bonde said. “Knowing that I am a role model for my teammates pushes me to be my best and do my best every day. I am so thankful that they have supported me through all my injuries and rehab, I wouldn’t be where I am without them.”
“I am extremely grateful and thankful for Sterling,” said Landeros. “I don’t know how I ended up in a one-stoplight town in the middle of USA, but I am so blessed to have been able to call it my second home for the last four years.”
In addition to the senior day celebration, the Sterling softball team put on a home run derby the Friday before as a fundraiser for York’s head softball coach Roni Miller, who recently discovered she has cancer. The Sterling program presented Coach Miller with a gift basket at home plate along with a signed card to show that they will be supporting her. Head softball coach Alyssa James said that “it was important to me [that the team show support] because Coach Miller is a good friend of mine and I want her to know that we have her back and will help her in any way that she needs. The conference as a whole has committed to having Roni’s back to help raise money for her family so she can beat this.”
Resuming play, the Warriors came out strong and quickly took the lead from the Panthers. Some amazing plays were made both on defense and offense to allow Sterling to take game two with an 8-2 victory. There is one varsity game left in the season. Sterling will travel to play Friends University this Thursday at 12 and 2 p.m. “It’s tough to realize that after Thursday,” said Weimer, “I will no longer have meaningful softball games to look forward to and attend in which I am actually a player and not a coach or umpire. Up until now, even when I’m not playing, I’ve always been able to think, “yes, watching stinks, but just wait until your season starts or until your next game day.” I truly look forward to every practice, workout, and game, and that’s just not reality anymore.”
“It’s a little scary knowing that a piece of me is leaving the game,” said Montion. “Softball,” she continued, “is something I’ve known my whole life and now that it’s over, it’s something I never thought would happen.”
Landeros had similiar sentiments. “I think I’m still in shock at the fact that the sport I’ve been playing since I was five has really come to an end,” she said.” I like to consider this page in my book half-turned because I’m not sure if I can turn the page on this sport just yet.”
“Playing softball at Sterling College has made me grow as a person. It has really allowed me to work on my teaching skills because I’ve been injured so often. It has made me love the game more than I did when I came here and I am thankful for that,” said Bonde.
As these upperclassmen say goodbye to those younger than them, Landeros said that she “hope[s] you seize the day. I hope you seize every opportunity that is given to you. You are here in this moment, in this location, with these friends for a reason and a purpose. Every one of you brings a unique talent and personality to the team and I cannot wait to watch you all pursue your careers, grow as athletes and continue to be the amazing human beings you are. I love you all. If I have one advice to give you, it is to laugh always, love boldly, take risks and remember tomorrow is never guaranteed so make today the best day yet.”
“I wouldn’t have wanted to go anywhere else,” said Diosdado. “Sterling College has put me through trials I never thought I could overcome and also brought amazing and lifelong friends into my life. I wouldn’t have it any other way and I thank Sterling College for that.”
Estrada also was thankful to the school for her time here. “I am more than thankful to have attended Sterling College for the past four years. Sterling, Kansas will forever hold a special place in my heart. Here, I have made unforgettable memories, built friendships that will last a lifetime, and was blessed enough to meet my future husband.”
Coach James said that “I would tell [the seniors] that they have done a great job of leading this year. They have set us up for success in the future with their hard work, dedication and heart.” Bright things are in store for these graduating seniors who must now pass down the torch for the next group to hold. They may be apart, but this group will forever be Team45.