‘A Deserving Voice’: All-star football players submit heartfelt letter on cancellations


Dozens of local football players are hoping for one last chance to play under the lights

SALINEVILLE, Ohio (WKBN) – Southern Local senior Jayce Sloan is one of dozens of local football players hoping for one last chance to play under the lights.

Sloan was selected to play in the Penn-Ohio Stateline Classic on June 25, an all-star football game that has since been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You know, my heart kind of broke because it was something I’ve been waiting for my whole life,” Sloan said.

So Sloan, along with competitors from three area schools, submitted an essay to local newspapers. They’re hoping their heartfelt message will prompt organizers of the game to reevaluate after the quarantine is over.

You can listen to our interview with Jayce Sloan in the video above and read his entire essay below.

“A Deserving Voice”

We understand the COVID-19 pandemic is a very serious issue. The virus has affected the lives of many worldwide. Our hearts ache for those lives who have been lost and we praise those who continue to battle with and against this infectious disease in order to become victorious. We understand the decisions being made are in benefit for the safety of the general public. We can’t deny that and hold the utmost respect for those looking out for the safety of our communities. With these decisions being made, we as student-athletes feel as though people are not acknowledging the full impact they are having on us.

All we ask is for our deserving voice to be heard. The decisions being made are drastically impacting the lives of so many individuals who have put forth the maximum dedication, time, and effort to accomplish what we have dreamt of accomplishing ever since we were young. Day after day, we overcame many obstacles in pursuit of our passions to hopefully display them amongst the grand stages such as state tournaments and all-star games. With each day passing, we get more heartbreaking news of the once in a lifetime moments being taken away from us. The moments we will never get to experience again.

The opportunities being stripped away from the senior students and athletes can not be described. We as the class of 2020 have been deprived of everything we hoped would make our last year memorable. We tend to keep holding onto these wishes in hope that they will fulfill what is left of our high school careers. Unfortunately, that hope is lost as these wishes abruptly come to an end with the decisions being made. We as a class have lost social events such as prom, spring sports, and graduation that goes to show that the most eventful and heart fulfilling year of our lives has turned into great heartbreak and tragedy. It seems like a reoccurring nightmare.

Not many seniors get the opportunity to participate in these all-star games either. For those selected to play, participating in these all-star games may have been a dream and goal of ours ever since we realized our passion for the sport. Through our academic work in the classroom, community service, and athletic ability, some of us have earned the privilege to participate in these games. Events such as these all-star games give a platform between competitors who have caused the greatest rivalries and electrifying games to finally unite and build a further friendship. Now, this may not happen. These are the same games that we’ve witnessed incorporating many great athletes of the past. Many of whom we idolized and dedicated our craft to. Promising ourselves that no matter how difficult it was, we would do what was necessary to fill their shoes and make a statement for not only ourselves, but who we represent. Sadly, those hopes have been crushed without consideration. Was there no alternatives? Could the games have not been pushed back to further dates or be televised like a “Game of the Week” with only the coaches and players present? These are the alternatives the senior athletes are asking themselves and hoping for. Instead, we get a final decision that seems to be determined without consideration to making any concessions.

Academics, social events, and sports have been the beneficial factors that have developed us into who we are today. Through these factors, we have been taught many life lessons. Life lessons such as adversity and perseverance both of which we are applying to the current situation. Not only have we been taught life lessons, but we’ve also acquired many relationships. These relationships were formed amongst teammates, peers, fans, friends, communities, and competitors. Relationships that have been life altering and unforgettable.

Our statement was not to criticize the decisions being made. The statement was not intended for us to ignore the devastating pandemic that is sweeping the nation. No. This statement was to voice the opinions of the student-athletes who are unable to make their last memories together for the passions they’ve dedicated their lives to.

“Gifts to replace these games aren’t going to change the fact that we are being stripped of once in a lifetime experiences and memories. A jersey or a t-shirt will never replace the feeling of playing with lifelong friends in front of our communities one last time. I know we may seem selfish, but until you walk in our shoes, you’ll never know exactly how it feels to be a teenage boy in what some call ‘the greatest year of your life’ and having it stripped away without any say in the actions taking place. There is a discomfort in ignorance. I feel that we should at least be a part of or aware of some of the decisions being made for events that us 2020 Seniors are missing out on, instead of being kept in the dark. We know these games are a privilege and are not necessary for life to continue on, but after being told that we finally achieved a goal we set out to accomplish in being selected to play in these games and then having the chance stripped from us with no hope of rescheduling can’t go unspoken on.” – Southern Local Student-Athlete, Cameren Grodhaus

“All of us have worked so hard for the opportunity to be selected for such an amazing accomplishment and to have that taken away is heartbreaking. We’ve all played against each other in sports our entire lives and we finally get a chance to come together, play on the same team, build friendships, and memories and it’s taken away. We all wish we could’ve found another solution instead of canceling the game entirely. We couldn’t have tried to postpone the game to a later date? Every single kid selected would do anything to play in this game because it is such a tremendous honor that we all have worked so hard for.” – Columbiana Student-Athlete, Jakob Cross

“Been waiting since freshman year to represent Ohio. Heartbreaking is an understatement… I know the decisions being made are for the safety of the general public and I respect that. I just know I’d personally take my chances to take my final steps on the field for one night to play under those Friday night lights for a game I have had a passion about ever since I was that young boy. It is an honor to be selected to play in the game, but no alternative solution will make up for the chance to play in this great game. They said senior year was the year to make memories and yet we both as a student and as an athlete I feel like the pages of what’s supposed to be the last chapter of my high school career are being torn. This is truly tragic.” – Southern Local Student-Athlete, Jayce Sloan

“Opportunity is without a doubt, the best circumstance and or chance to achieve a goal. Us as student-athletes as a whole have grown up falling in love with the sport of football. Up until this past season, each and every one of us have gone through continuous practices and dedication to our families, teammates, and schoolwork for the successes that come on and off the field. One achievement of which is being a part of these unforgettable all-star games. It’s time to meet new friends, athletes, and coaches while having one of the most memorable times of our young lives. No matter the time or date, we should all be given the golden opportunity to attend these events.” – Western Reserve Student-Athlete, Todd Henning, Jr.

“We may have saved many lives. We may have not. We’ll never truly know that. I just know the most important year of our lives got taken away.” – Columbiana Student-Athlete, Chase Franken

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