LESTER PRAIRIE – For Lester Prairie senior Maddie Guggemos, it was more than just her last sports season. It was much more. It was things that were beyond the softball diamond.
“It is not anything that we ever imagined or thought could happen,” Guggemos said. “Every senior athlete has this image in their mind about having that one last year with all of their teammates and how their last high school game would be played. My teammates and I along with every other person in this position are most likely very heartbroken on what is happening around the world right now. It has been so hard trying to get over the fact that I won’t have that one last season to play my favorite sport with all my favorite friends alongside me.”
Senior year is a special time for high school athletes. That’s no different for Guggemos. Not only were the Bulldogs poised for a strong season with talent returning, but Guggemos was also excited to see what she could do coming off a strong junior season.
“I was mostly looking forward to spending one last time on the field with my team and the great coaches,” Guggemos said. “I was really looking forward to seeing our team’s growth this year. To see the team’s chemistry along with how we would come together with all the hard work we’ve been putting in the last few years. I hit for a pretty good average my junior year, so I wanted to see if I could improve that number this year.”
Early on in her softball career, Guggemos was a pitcher throughout the years. Although she never really got the time in the circle at the varsity, she was still dedicated to working on her craft. She knew one day she might be needed, and wanted to be ready for her team.
“I’ve practiced pitching for many years and I was always OK with not being a starting pitcher,” Guggemos said. “I knew that I could always pitch if needed. I was really into pitching through my freshman year. I still practiced and always told coaches I would be there if needed.”
While Guggemos saw limited time on the rubber for the Bulldogs, her senior season was a time where she would have enjoyed that opportunity.
“This final year would’ve been a season where I wanted to pitch just one last time,” Guggemos said. “Even one game, a few innings, or just one more chance. I was always up for the challenge to pitch and contribute any way that I could. It was fun because I can play nearly anywhere, but I guess you could say I was really looking forward to the challenge.”
Guggemos will never get that chance to take on that challenge as the Minnesota State High School League canceled the spring sports season last month due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the current situation took away her final season, it can’t take away the memories she’s created along the way.
“Some of my favorite softball memories are in my freshman season when I pitched JV and I ran bases on varsity for Hope Feltmann,” Guggemos said. “That was a new and exciting experience. Hope always got on base, I always had to be ready to run. That same year I pitched at a JV tournament all day in the hot sun, and that was a good memory.”
Memories throughout Guggemos’ career go beyond the diamond, as well. It was the little things along the way that stand out the most.
“I will miss everything about high school sports,” Guggemos said. “Whether it was practice in the hot gym for volleyball, to running out of the locker room seeing all the fans cheer. Whether it was hearing the band play, the locker room talk, the bus rides, to the pre-game dance parties and walking down the halls and seeing all the little kids say ‘I watched her volleyball game last night. She jumps high.’ I will miss being that role model for kids. From the bottom of my heart, I will miss everything about being a high school athlete. Most definitely by far some of the best moments of my life so far.”
Having her final season taken away in an instant hasn’t been easy for Guggemos. While it’s a hard pill to swallow, she knows this is something that will only make her stronger going forward.
“It will make me a stronger person by far,” Guggemos said. “I look at things so differently, and the last few months have taught me not to take things for granted. It will teach a lot of us not to take stuff for granted.”