GREAT FALLS — Thursday was supposed to mark one week from the start of State AA softball tournament. Instead, it was a send-off celebration for outgoing Great Falls High and CMR senior softball players after the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the spring sports seasons.
Eleven seniors between the two schools lined the fence along the softball fields Thursday, some seeing their teammates for the first time in a while. Supporters could drive by, honk their horns, say hi or drop off a card.
"I think it's great for the parents and the teammates and coaches to put this on," Great Falls High senior Rachel Porter said. "It was really heartwarming for everybody and it means a lot to us to have something."
Great Falls High was looking to win its third straight state championship this season. Despite not having that opportunity, the Bison know how loved they are.
"It just makes you feel so supported and so loved because the community is great and just like they would be at the softball games, they're awesome supporters," Anna Toon said.
CMR was set enter its first season under new head coach Alex Lowry, and that would’ve been extra special for Rustler senior Peyton Peterson.
"Probably just being able to play under her just because coach Lowry's my cousin," Peterson said. "So I think that would have been really cool just to be able to play under her because I've always looked up to her and I think that would have been pretty neat."
While the unique circumstances of a pandemic may have ruined their seasons, it also gave the seniors a chance to gain perspective.
"It definitely has taught me to never take what you have for granted and just to work harder and just to try to be more involved and do the best that you can because you never know what could happen," CMR senior Kiely Gunderson said. "You might get injured or (coronavirus) might happen. You never know."