OKEECHOBEE —On May 1, Okeechobee High School turned on the football stadium and baseball field lights, as well as the tennis court lights at the Sports Complex at 8:20 p.m. for 20 minutes to honor the spring athletes who weren’t able finish their season due to COVID-19.
Administrators at OHS also asked parents around Okeechobee to turn their porch lights on as well as a sign of solidarity with the Class of 2020.
The symbolic gesture also recognized the band students who weren’t able perform their annual spring concert, drama students who missed out on the spring musical, the JROTC students who could not attend the military ball, and the state and international science fair participants who missed out on the competition and travel.
Hanging on the fence at OHS is a banner recognizing the 2020 Brahman baseball team, who were able to play a total of eight games this season before COVID-19 forced schools to close statewide.
The Brahmans had high hopes for their 2020 season. They opened the year with a big, blowout 11-1 win over the Centennial Eagles on Feb. 18, and it looked as though they had all the right pieces for a district championship run.
“Our season being cut short it is one of the biggest disappointments,” said senior and four-year letterman Ozzy Osceola. “Having my senior season cut short, not being able to walk across the field on senior night and not being able to have a shot at winning the district championship that we have been wanting since our freshman year is the worst feeling ever.”
In that season opener against the Eagles, Ozzy hit a rocket into deep right field that brought in two baserunners and put the Brahmans up 7-1 midway through the game. Osceola had team leading five RBIs that game.
In of the Brahman’s final games, a 5-2 win over Martin County, senior and four-year letterman Brady Markham allowed only one hit and one run over six innings while on the mound for Okeechobee.
“Our team had a lot of confidence and toughness,” said Markham. “We felt like every day we showed up on the field, we would win. This year’s club had a chance to make a good run in the postseason.”
Markham says his best memory from his time on the team is making it to the regional final in his sophomore year, one game away from the final four.
“I think we could have won the district championship, without a doubt,” said Osceola of the missed potential of the 2020 Brahmans. “I think we could have made it to the final four to represent Okeechobee High School at state.”
Osceola says his best memory from his time on the Brahman squad was when his former teammate, Jarret Faulkner, hit a ball over the fence and got so excited that one of his teeth fell out of his mouth. Ozzy says the team had to stop practice and spend 10 minutes searching for the missing tooth in the clay.
“The only advice I would give to the underclassmen is to enjoy and cherish every second of it,” concluded Osceola. “When you get on the field for practice or a game, give it 110 percent. I didn’t think these past four years were gonna fly by in the blink of an eye as everyone had always told me. I would do it all over again if I could.”
The 2020 Brahman varsity baseball squad had plenty of potential. Would they have been able to bring home that district championship and advance to the final four? Maybe. Because of COVID-19 we’ll never know.