“This is another one of those ultimate ‘not fairs’ due to the coronavirus.”
That’s what Benjamin Russell girls soccer coach Lee Wagoner said about his rising senior, Abigail Sims, not getting a chance to actually play in the AHSAA North-South game despite being named to the roster Friday.
And it is unfair.
There has been a whole list of “not fairs” this year. From the spring sports season being cut short to seniors not getting to finish their final year of high school, from people losing their jobs and others losing their loved ones, it’s been several months of “not fairs.”
Now we can add no North-South All-Star week to the list.
Regardless, being named to these North-South teams is still a huge honor.
“Just having your name on that team is something special,” Wagoner said. “They only take about 18 (girls soccer players), and that’s (Class) 1A through 7A. That’s an elite list of girls soccer players throughout the state of Alabama. If your name hasn’t been noticed before, it should definitely be now.”
One of the biggest benefits of playing in the North-South game is for the recruitment. Because of the high caliber of players selected, it provides great room for improvement and excellent competition. But more importantly for the individual selections, having one large all-star week brought recruits from around the area and beyond to take a look at those players.
That’s a big loss for some of these competitors. With things starting to open back up, there may be other showcases and camps for these players to attend over the summer to get recruiting eyes on them. But having one big week in one location was great for the college hopefuls.
However, like Wagoner said, just being on these lists will help heads turn.
Hopefully once the NCAA opens recruiting back up, these college coaches will take the extra effort to find girls like Sims — amongst several other locals and players beyond the area named to North-South teams — and give them a hard look.
This North-South week was shaping up to be a good one for Tallapoosa County. The only game for graduated seniors is the football game, which Reeltown’s Rhasheed Wilson was selected for and Reeltown’s Matt Johnson was set to coach in. Luckily, Wilson’s recruiting journey is complete as he signed with Huntingdon College prior to the pandemic.
As for rising seniors, Dadeville’s PJ Eason was selected to play in the boys basketball all-star game and Benjamin Russell’s Ryan Slaten earned a spot on the baseball team. Along with Sims, that’s really good representation for the area — especially with one team left to be released, softball.
It’s definitely going to be a bummer not to see these kids play in that kind of showcase, but that still doesn’t take away from having that kind of statewide recognition.
“I hate that Ryan will not be able to participate this year,” BRHS baseball coach Richy Brooks said. “It is a big event. The guys get to play at Riverwalk, which is a big stage for them, and you get to see some people that you haven’t seen and play against great competition. I hate he’s not going to get to actually play in the game but being named to the team is an honor in itself.”
I urge Tallapoosa County schools and our area teams to find a way to honor these kids. Whether it be a ceremony at school or a game dedicated to them during their upcoming seasons, these players deserved to be noticed so it can seem a little less unfair.