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OHS Seniors Work To Put COVID-19 In Perspective
Senior Rilyn Cassaretto has played softball throughout her years at OHS and was looking forward to defending the Section championship the Lady Mustangs won in 2019.

Now that the 2019-2020 school year has officially come to an end – at least as far as returning to the OHS campus – the spring sports season has also gone by the wayside.

That has left a number of athletes, particularly high school seniors, trying to gain some perspective on the coronavirus pandemic and how it has directly impacted them.

This week, we present the second in a two-part series with local athletes, focusing on four OHS seniors and how they are coping with the dramatic changes they have seen in just the past few weeks.

Jacquelyn LeCouve is very active at Oakdale High School. She participated in FFA, leadership, track and field, and cheer all four years of high school. Like many she was at home when the news first broke that school was to be postponed until early May, then not returning again for the remainder of the school year.

“I was at home doing homework and I had heard it on social media. I was stunned to be honest. I respect and appreciate the decision that the county and Oakdale Joint Unified School district has made. Our health is truly what is important.”

LeCouve shared her deepest sympathy for the FFA group.

“I feel so bad for the FFA kids who were planning on showing their livestock their senior year. I know they get an extension one year post high school but it is not the same,” she pointed out.

Personally, LeCouve said she misses her floral class the most as it was a way to express her creativity. This fall LeCouve is scheduled to attend University of Tampa in Florida. She has aspirations of being a pilot like her father.

Rilyn Cassaretto is a varsity softball player who was hard hit by the news when it broke. She was at home with her mom and she said she and her teammates all face timed each other to discuss the matter.

“I was crushed, as are my teammates,” Cassaretto, who has played softball all four years, said. “It has been a blessing playing for this program, and coach (Larry) Loger.”

Now, she is staying active by playing catch with her brother and dad.

“My younger brother plays baseball so he has been playing catch with me and we have been training together as well.”

Cassaretto said she misses so much about being in school from her classes, her teachers and playing softball, adding that she is “crushed” about not being able to return to the OHS campus to close out her senior year.

“We all grew up together and it just won’t be the same in college,” Cassaretto said.

Alfie Harris has been using this time to learn new hobbies; he is currently learning how to play piano.

“It feels weird not being at school and interacting with my friends and teachers. I have been picking up new hobbies and learning how to play piano. It’s coming along nicely.”

Harris suited up for soccer at OHS and although his season was completed in the winter, shortly before the COVID-19 crisis, he sympathizes with all the athletes whose season is in limbo.

“There are tons of talented senior student-athletes who are missing out in their craft right now and I feel awful for all of them.”

Harris added that he misses his creative writing class very much because it was a way to express himself on paper. Moving forward, Harris said that everyone needs to be cautious and needs to be responsible socially.

“It would be very disappointing to lose out on graduation, yearbook exchange, senior ditch day, prom and those sorts of things; however, I’d rather be safe than risk anything.”

Michael Echavarria was in disbelief when the news broke.

“I was at home, doing my homework and heard it but really was in denial,” he admitted. “I have so many memories (of high school) and yet I know that there are more memories to be made.”

Echavarria played football, baseball and basketball during his time at school and this spring he was going to play tennis for the first time.

“I wanted to try something new and tennis would have been fun. I suffered an injury in basketball but I was almost ready to return,” he said.

For Echavarria and other OHS athletes, they can now only think of what might have been; as the 2020 campaign is over.

Active in basketball during the winter season, OHS senior Michael Echavarria was eager to try his hand at tennis for the Mustangs this spring but didn’t get the chance before the season was cancelled.