Wheatland Ducks season comes to a close as Mustang players gear up for upcoming high school season


Courtesy of Amanda Brennan

The Ducks have faced a lot of challenges through their season. The bond they have with each other has guided them over the past few months.

Grace Davidson, Sports Reporter

While school sports were at a standstill due to the pandemic, many student-athletes turned to travel sports teams as a way to continue competing. One of these teams is the Wheatland Ducks, which has several players from Metea. Just like school sports, this travel team has had to work their way through the unknown this past year.

“[We enforce] mandatory mask-wearing, we pace the boys more than pushing the boys, we do our best on spacing, and [we] don’t shake hands at the end of practices,” Head Coach Bill Smith said. 

Usually, in a spring sport, players practice and play games indoors. Since the sport is not yet able to be played outside, spectators are not currently allowed. Smith, however, gives the parents updates on how their kids are doing, because many parents miss watching the games in person.

“The pandemic canceled our Metea baseball season last year, and changed the game significantly over the summer with the Ducks,” Junior Nolan Moranchek said. “Every player was required to wear face coverings when in the dugouts, umpires were located differently on the field, and equipment couldn’t be shared among players.”

Moranchek starts center field for the Ducks and plans to be on Metea’s baseball team this spring. When he is not playing with his travel team, he practices at home with a tee and net in his backyard to keep himself conditioned. One positive thing a few sports players have in common is the newfound gratitude for their sport.

“Mentally, I think the pandemic has had a positive impact on my state of mind,” Junior Sean Tracy said. “I now appreciate what we have so much more than ever. Because, in those many months of quarantine, I realized how much I love the sport of baseball. The pandemic has made me realize that I need to be thankful that I was gifted with the athletic ability to be able to play baseball at the level that I do.”

Like Moranchek, Tracy plays for both the Ducks 18u team and Metea’s baseball program. At home, he practices with his father. Tracy also created a workout program with weights in his house that helps keep him in shape. Regardless, the players are playing catch-up this year due to last season ending early.  The players have missed three to four months of training and practice, which only fuels his passion for the sport. 

“Something that makes me passionate about baseball is the fact that I know I can always be better,” Tracy said. “Every game, I find something that I can improve on. This drive to get better makes me such a better player. Also, I love the rush when a ball gets hit to me, or when I’m up to the plate in a clutch situation.

The pandemic has also led to different ways for teams to communicate and stay in touch with each other. The Ducks have been able to communicate and stay in touch using Zoom calls and FaceTime. The team also has multiple group chats that they can communicate through. Overall, the team’s bond has remained strong throughout the pandemic. 

“If I could tell the public one thing about how the pandemic is affecting sports, it would be the interactions between teammates,” Tracy said. “To be a good team, you need to have solid relationships with all of your teammates. Because of the restrictions, it is hard to have good relationships with the distancing and the masks. The good teams will stand out once games start back up again in the springtime.