by Eric Oslund
Senior nights are a special time for any high school team. It’s when the coaches, fans, and teammates get to honor a group of players one last time before they graduate. Cheers, smiles, laughs, and sometimes even tears often take place during these occasions, as the seniors look back on their high school careers and what their time being apart of the program has meant to them.
The Elk River softball team held their senior day on May 11, but it was not the senior day most people are accustomed to since the Elks do not have a single senior on their roster this year. So instead of honor their players, they decided to recognize two seniors who have meant a lot to the program.
The first one was Kristina Erickson, the team’s manager. This was her first year working with the softball team, but she has spent a lot of time managing the girls hockey team in Elk River.
“I never met Kristina before this year,” Sheetz began, “but this fall when I was at the high school, just getting some stuff for softball taken care of, she was in the office and she just said, ‘Hey, coach. I used to play softball back in the day and I managed hockey for a couple years, and I’d love to manage.’ I said, ‘Sure,’
“I told her, ‘I wish a couple years ago you could have ran into me.’ But it was probably meant to be this year since we didn’t have any seniors. We just kind of thought that one morning. I think it was meant to be a little bit. She’s such a good kid and she’s really there because she loves being a part of a team. It’s pretty awesome.”
After Sheetz praised Erickson in front of the softball fans, the team’s lone senior went over to all the players and was immediately embraced. Sharing laughs and smiles with all the girls she has built a relationship with this spring.
Then, the head coach went on to give thanks to one other senior, though, she is a senior in a different sense of the word. Fae Jacobs, who Sheetz referred to as the team’s “favorite senior,” was sitting in her regular spot behind home plate, and got her recognition for all the support she has shown the team through the years.
The players were quick to join in the recognition their head coach was giving Jacobs, as a number of them ran over to give their No. 1 fan the fist bump they are all so accustomed to doing.
“She’s just been huge. She’s such a big support,” Sheetz said of Jacobs. “The girls have always loved having her there, and she’s always loved the girls.
“She’s a die hard and she’s one of those people too that will tell you straight up. I’ll come out once in awhile and she’ll say, ‘You need to switch it up. So-and-so isn’t pitching good, put so-and-so into hit.’ She’s always willing to offer her advice and sometimes I take it. Like, ‘Yeah, she might be right this time.’ But she’s so awesome, and she’s always been just a support no matter how good or bad we’re doing, she’s always there.”
It’s not too often that a high school team does not have a single senior on their roster, especially when it’s at a school the size of Elk River. But even though the Elks ran into that oddity, they still found a way to honor those that mean a lot to their program and what they do out on the field.