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The City Journals

Bingham boys soccer head coach, seniors reflect on vanishing season

May 07, 2020 12:07PM ● By Josh McFadden

By Josh McFadden | [email protected]

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned everyone life’s upside down. The sports world—at all levels—hasn’t been immune.

It has hit high school seniors particularly hard.

Just a week into the season, the Bingham boys soccer team joined every sports program around the state in a lockdown, ending the 2020 campaign in stunning fashion. The Miners lost their three games to Lone Peak, Westlake and Pleasant Grove. But the real story is that the dedicated senior class will never suit up for the Miners again.

Head coach Leo Gonzalez joins everyone else in trying to grasp the magnitude of the pandemic.

“The 2020 spring season was short, disappointing and frustrating,” he said. “It is hard to shake off the feeling of ‘unfinished business,’ and I’m sure no one ever imagined that a virus could turn the world upside down for as long as it has.”

Gonzalez and his players started training for the season in late February like all other boys soccer teams. In whirlwind, things went from a normal routine, to a two-week suspension of play to a full-out abandonment of the season.

Gonzalez laments the impact this has on the 12th-graders on the team.

“Having the spring season cancelled has been heartbreaking for all of the athletes and coaches, but it’s been especially hard for our seniors,” he said. “For them, this signifies the end of their soccer career up to this point. To end an era of their lives with this kind of disappointment, leaves us all feeling at a loss. For my seniors who were looking forward to showcasing themselves and pursuing college opportunities, the cancellation of their season brings up some valid concerns.”

To their credit, the senior players are holding their heads high and trying to keep the situation in perspective. Francisco Mejia is using the opportunity to reflect on his entire career at Bingham.

“Our season got cut short, and it honestly hurts us all so bad,” he said. “We all wanted to take state this year. Going out like this isn’t the greatest, but in the end, it was an honor playing for Bingham the past four years, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.”

Fellow senior Blake Pirami will go down in history holding the distinction of scoring the team’s one and only goal this season. The goal came in a 4-1 loss to Lone Peak in the March 4 season opener. Pirami acknowledges that there is some pain in missing the vast majority of the season but echoes Mejia’s sentiments about his experience as a Miner.

“It’s still sinking in that the season is over,” Pirami said. “We are all pretty sad, but I’m grateful that I got to play three seasons for Bingham and scored the only goal this season. At least now I get to tell my kids I was the leading scorer my senior year. Thanks to my team and coaches for everything. I’m going to miss them all.”

Gonzalez knows that the coronavirus pandemic is a much deeper concern than sports. He is pleased with how his players have handled the situation.

“As coaches, we’re so proud of the way these boys reacted to this circumstance,” he said. “The game of soccer is so much fun, but watching our players dealing with adversity and embracing this challenge in a positive way has been more rewarding than winning any soccer game.”

When the lockdown began, Gonzalez outlined a weekly workout plan for the boys to follow. All 38 players followed the regimen, with some doing extra work to stay in shape. Gonzalez changed the plan every two weeks and was happy with how the players responded.

The Bingham roster lists 30 underclassmen on this year’s squad. Those who return next season are already eager to make up for lost time and honor those whose final year was marred by COVID-19.