Kamiakin High School senior athlete reacts to school closure

KENNEWICK, Wash. – Gov. Inslee has closed all schools in Washington state for the rest of the year due to COVID-19 — a new norm setting in for students.

For high school seniors, they’re dealing with the harsh reality that they will never step foot on campus again. For some seniors, it also means not stepping onto a field again.

“I never would’ve thought, ‘Oh my senior year of baseball is going to be stripped away from me 100%,” said Kelen Rutz, senior at Kamiakin High School. “I never would’ve thought that ever, but it happened. I was totally taken away from my baseball season and so were millions of other kids.”

Rutz is a football and baseball player – a passion he’s had since he was a boy.

“I wanna kinda pursue — kinda like a career in baseball – go farther out of high school,” he said.

Little did he know that his second high school baseball game of the year would be his last. Rutz said Kamiakin High School was the only school in the state to have two baseball games this year.

“It’s been really rough,” he said. “I mean, we’ve been together since we were freshmen, and this is like the huge year that we’re all waiting for.”

Rutz has been home since mid-March. He said he’s been playing catch with his dad and brothers as well as working out at home. Rutz explained that he’s accepted that he won’t be going back to school.

“It’s tough on everyone, but I know I’m in it with millions of other kids, so I’m not going to mourn about it and be sad,” he said. “It’s crazy. I feel like the whole world is on pause and everyone’s been talking about that. Everyone’s been like, yeah there’s nothing we can really do. Can’t go out and eat. Can’t hang out.”

Rutz and his teammates have been talking to each other through text messages – giving advice to other players who will return next year. They’re planning to play together again once they can do so safely.

“We’re still thinking about a future and stuff,” Rutz said. “Practicing in the summer as a team, so we have something to go off of instead of just two games that we had.”

With the time he’s spent at home through this pandemic, Rutz said he now has a different outlook on life.

“Just looking at it as it is what it is. We have zero control out of this. There’s nothing we did wrong for this to happen,” Rutz explained. “I would say to other teens to look at this – this could maybe be a milestone, kinda like a restart. Like what are you going to do next. What’s the next move?”

Rutz has his next move planned. He’s already committed to play baseball at Yakima Valley College. For now, he said he’ll continue to stay safe at home and maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.