Tommy Williams knew this was his year.
He knew it was Shady Spring's year.
The Shady senior emerged as an ace on the mound as a junior after establishing a solid career on the hardwood and finished the year as a second-team all-state selection in both baseball and basketball.
He was on pace for an even better senior year.
On the hardwood he led the Tigers to their first No. 1 ranking in the AP Poll in program history en route to a first-team all-state selection.
Unfortunately, Williams is one of several two-sport stars from around the state who may have lost both basketball and a spring sport to the COVID-19 pandemic. The day Williams and the Tigers were hoping to secure the second state tournament appearance in program history, all sports were suspended.
"Me and a couple of the other basketball players had actually left school early to get ready," Williams said. "We went to get something to eat and I went to the gym and laid down afterwards and that's when I got the news from coach (Ronnie) Olson that everything was on hold. I couldn't believe it. It felt like everything we worked hard for all season was gone, just like that."
Though the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission hasn't made a decision on whether to cancel all sporting events for the remainder of the school year, the writing largely remains on the wall with models projecting that the virus won't peak until May.
Williams was set to be the No. 1 pitcher for a team that made it to the state tournament last year. If this is indeed the last go around, he admits it would be hard to swallow with the potential the basketball and baseball teams have.
"I've actually thought about baseball a lot," Williams said. "Not as much as basketball though. I had a couple buddies I played a lot with like Drew (Clark) and we had a new head coach. I was looking forward to going out there and just enjoying it. That one hurt a lot, just not as much as basketball."
A large part of what's making the situation tough for Williams goes beyond personal achievements. In his first three years the Tigers came close to punching their ticket to Charleston, advancing to the Region 3 co-finals but being turned way on the road all three times. This time they were slated to face a Westside team, albeit on the road, that they defeated by double digits twice in the regular season. Now Williams tries to come to grips with the fact this may be the end.
"Honestly I don't know if we're going to play or not, but it's not looking too good right now," Williams said. "With basketball I think just time has helped. I've tried staying in the gym and keeping my mind off of it because it still hurts. Whether it be working out or playing video games, I've tried to stay busy. I think it's tougher for everyone on our team and community because this year we were really good. Shady isn't really thought of as that good basketball school and this was the year we were going to turn it around for our community and it just sucks because we had such a good year and we might not get to finish it. We had a chance to make history."
Fortunately, though, mitigating the sting is the fact Williams will get to continue his career on the court as he'll be attending Glenville State next year to play under former Wyoming East standout Justin Caldwell. He will be joined there by current Shady Spring teammate Luke LeRose.
"I think that definitely helps a lot," Williams said. "Just knowing that next year I'll be able t put on a jersey and play helps me cope with the fact I might not get to play high school ball again. That means a lot to me that it's not over."
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