Learning to hit curve balls in the COVID era

This story is second in a series covering graduations during COVID-19

By Jerry Masek

As a star softball player for 10 years, Abby Peterson learned to hit whatever pitch was thrown. This year, as a graduating senior at St. Joseph Academy, she saw a lot of real-life curve balls and changeups because of the pandemic:

  • Her spring softball season washed away completely, including a long-planned trip to Myrtle Beach.
  • Her summer softball season was cut in half.
  • She watched her graduation “ceremony” on a video at a drive-in theater.
  • Her restaurant employment was interrupted.
  • Her on-campus college orientation become a virtual experience.
  • Prom and the traditional “Walk of Roses” ceremony may or may not happen.

That’s a lot of change to throw at an 18-year-old. Through it all, Abby maintained a 4.2 grade point average, graduated with high honors, and regained her job at Applebee’s Restaurant in Rocky River.

Her positive attitude helped.

“There was a lot of uncertainty this year,” she said. “We never knew what was going to happen. We learned to live in the moment. Nothing in life is guaranteed.”

“Batter up!”

Softball should been a major part of her senior year. Abby pitches and plays infield. During her junior year, the team enjoyed a record-setting 21-6 season.

“This would have been a great year for us. Now, we’re not happy. It’s kind of sad. I really wanted to play one more season,” Abby said.

“An extended break”

“At first, they told us we would be back in 3 weeks, and we were happy for an extended break. Then, the break kept getting longer and longer. The school year ended really fast.”

At home, Abby quickly adopted a routine of waking up early, tackling her work in four subjects, and taking long walks in the Metroparks later in the day. There were a lot of Zoom meetings, e-mail and work in Google Classroom.

“I had never even heard of Zoom before,” she said. “As much as possible, our teachers tried to run the classes as if we were really there.”

It all led up to a graduation ceremony spread out over several days for social distancing. SJA assembled a video of all graduates picking up their diplomas, and played it at drive-in theater in North Ridgeville. Students and their families watched from cars, but classmates were nearby, and the social time was both safe and enjoyable.

A future filled with question marks

Graduation party? Maybe. Prom? Maybe. Walk of Roses? Maybe. When to leave for college? No date set yet.

Abby plans to major in business at Ohio University, and may eventually go into Law or Marketing. Although OU plans to re-open this fall, no date has been set. Orientation has changed from an on-campus to a virtual experience.

“I’m just looking forward to a future without COVID,” Abby said. ” I want a normal freshman year at college, I am going to stay positive and move forward.”

Footnote: Abby’s biggest fans are her parents, Alan and Kelli Peterson — a proud 1993 graduate of SJA.

SJA grad Abbe Peterson and her brother, Jamie.

Leave a Reply