Collateral COVID Damage: Staples Basketball Team Devastated As State Tournament Is Canceled

Marisa Shorrock is a senior at Staples High School, and a captain of the basketball team. On Monday night, the Wreckers — ranked #1 in the state, and nearing the end of their best season in decades — defeated Glastonbury to advance to the state tournament semifinals.

Just hours later, they received devastating news: The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference canceled the state tourney. Just like that, the season — with its dream of a title, a capstone to years of goal-setting, hard work, and playing together — was over.

Marisa — who was also a goalie on the soccer team, and will play lacrosse this spring (if there are high school sports) — wrote powerfully about the intense emotions she and her teammates felt after the cancellation. (The Staples boys team was also affected: After their best season in many years, they were eager to begin their own state tournament quest. It ended 6 hours before the opening tip-off.)

Her piece was published yesterday in The Ruden Report — the go-to platform for local high school sports, run by Staples grad Dave Ruden. It appeared yesterday morning, just hours before the Westport Public Schools announced they were closing for the foreseeable future. Marisa wrote:

As a kid, I had always dreamed of that one “great moment.”

I dreamed that I was scoring the World Cup winning goal when I practiced my penalty kicks on the “big girl” nets outside of school. I dreamed of making the buzzer-beater basket in the WNBA Finals when I counted down “3..2..1..” while trying to sink the craziest shot I could make up on the spot.

The “crowd” would go crazy. I would be running around, hands reached out to the sky, cheering at the top of my lungs.

Marisa Shorrock in action against Norwalk High earlier this year. (Photo/Mark Conrad for The Ruden Report)

One day. That’s what I would tell myself. One day I would have my own great moment.

As I got older, I realized that great moments don’t just happen, you have to work for them. Hard. You work through school breaks and race to practice right after the final bell rings. Your muscles always ache and bruises seem to pop up in a new place on your body every day. Injuries will come and go, but you will always work your way back.

You never give up, because you know that no matter the blood, sweat, and tears that you have shed for this sport, the reward at the end will always be worth it.

But what if that reward was just stripped away? Without warning.

Marisa Shorrock battles Greenwich, in the FCIAC tournament last month. (Photo/Mark Conrad for The Ruden Report)

I woke up yesterday [Tuesday] morning, coming off the high of a win that marked my team’s advancement into the state semifinal round, to find out that my season was over. My whole entire basketball career was done. Finished. While the CIAC will be back next year, I, and all of my fellow seniors, will not.

It took a while for the reality of the situation to fully sink in. It was like my brain couldn’t physically processes the information. How could I go from playing in front of a hundred fans to not being allowed to step foot on the court with my thirteen teammates, all in the span of less than twenty-four hours?

There would be no state tournament. No title. No celebration. No great moment. There wouldn’t even be the opportunity to lose.

When my team lost the FCIAC finals in double overtime, the core-shattering devastation felt like an out-of-body experience. I thought that I would never feel anything worse than the emotions I felt after that game. I was wrong.

Marisa Shorrock’s teammates included (from left) Nicole Holmes, Kat Cozzi and Abby Carter. They pressured Glastonbury High’s Charlotte Bassett Monday night, in what turned out to be the Wreckers’ last game of the season. (Photo/Mark Conrad for The Ruden Report)

Although I absolutely hate losing, nothing is worse than not even being able to compete. There’s no closure. It’s unsettling.

The title was right there. Two more games. Just over an hour of play time. That’s all we needed. I know that we were not guaranteed to make it to the finals and we might not have pulled off the magical finish I had always dreamed about; however, after all of the hard work and fighting through adversity, not even having the opportunity to compete was heartbreaking.

I understand that with a global health pandemic decisions need to be made. However, how is it that I am still attending a 1,900 person school every day? How is it that the same day the tournament was cancelled, my 10th grade brother was allowed to play rec basketball at Staples with hundreds of other boys and referees? When the rules don’t make any sense, that’s when I begin to question the decisions being made.

Tomorrow marks my 18th birthday, the day before what would have been Staples’ first semifinal basketball game in 25 years. Instead of spending the night as the kid that would always dream about the endless possibilities, I am left contemplating the harsh reality as I enter the adult world. There will always be a new decision to be made. There will always be controversy. The world’s not fair, but soon I, and hopefully all of my fellow seniors, will learn to accept the outcome and continue to dream for those great moments.

(Click here for the Ruden Report.)

5 responses to “Collateral COVID Damage: Staples Basketball Team Devastated As State Tournament Is Canceled

  1. If nothing else, Marisa has a future in writing. What a fabulous work of expression, articulation, and structure. As a writer myself, I truly appreciate what is slowly becoming a lost art…the simple act of writing good work. I was able to feel Marisa’s emotions as I wrote this, and she just turned 18. She definitely has a bright future in whatever she chooses.Well done.

  2. Larry Langer

    Marisa, the circumstances that prompted your piece in the Ruden Report are lamentable, but your writing and thought process is brilliant. I’m sure you will have many “great moments” in life with the drive, emotion, intellect and power to express yourself you that you display here. You certainly are the definition of a winner in my opinion. As you correctly articulate, life is full of unfair incongruencies, but every problem is an opportunity. Somehow, I think you will find life paying you benefits stemming from this devastating theft.

  3. Staples Lady Wreckers were the #1 seed in the LL’s when the 2020 State basketball tournament began. The season has ended and they are still #1 – where they will always remain with their family, friends and fans. Paco Fabian’s team was a joy to watch. Their enthusiasm and hard work was basketball at its best. Congratulations to coaches and players on a great season! You ARE #1!

  4. Kiddo, beautifully written. Talk about a class act…I taught for 24 years and that is one of the best written pieces I ever read. You give me great confidence that you will be out there as a leader in the future. Congratulations all, all around.

  5. David Squires

    What a wonderful piece of writing from this multi-talented Star. Keep up the hard work, passion & heart felt drive. It will pay off many times over! Share the positivity, and stay healthy. Go Wreckers!!!!
    Thanks for the coverage Dan!