Spring sports senior profiles, an ongoing series

by Kelley Pearson, Sports Editor

With the spring sports season in question, we here at the Coalfield Progress/Dickenson Star/Big Stone Gap Post hope to run a profile on each and every senior in the paper. Our intention is to give them and their families something to feel happy about in a time of such uncertainty. This will be an ongoing series with different students featured each week.

Eastside softball’s Carrie Boyd

Eighteen-year-old Carrie Boyd has played basketball and softball all four years of high school. She has played both sports since she was four.

Boyd has also played travel softball for as long as she can remember.

“Anyone who knows me knows my passion for the game. I strive to be a good teammate, work hard and be a leader,” Boyd said. “I have learned that being the best on the team is not what matters, but what matters is being what is best FOR the team.”

Her belief in the importance of leadership has paid off as she was named captain of the basketball and softball teams in both her junior and senior years.

Boyd is also the treasurer of the Key Club as well as being a member of the National Honor Society, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Student Council Association.

Boyd has signed her letter of intent to continue her academic and softball careers at the University of Pikeville. She will be studying elementary education and intends to proceed to grad school in order to become a speech pathologist.

Boyd says that she and her fellow seniors are “grieving tremendously” for the loss of their senior year. But, she also realizes the safety of those involved is paramount.

“Everything we have looked forward to for so long was taken away from us in the blink of an eye. It is heart wrenching. However, we know the safety of our friends and family is the most important thing,” Boyd said.

As the spring sports season still hangs in the balance, Boyd talks about the lack of closure that the 2020 seniors will be without.

“Knowing that I will never walk the halls of Eastside High School again is so sad. It is very hard to take in. All seniors know this day is coming, but most seniors know when that day will be and most would be many months later. We were completely unaware,” Boyd said. “Knowing my last season of high school softball is more than likely over and I may never put that green uniform on again is making this feeling worse.”

To her fellow seniors, Boyd has a message of victory: “We will prevail. Bigger and brighter things are ahead for us. Remember that God always has a plan for us. I pray each one of you finds where you belong in this world and can make an impact.”

Boyd imparts words of never taking anything for granted to the rest of her team.

“Practice and play everyday like it's your last, because you truly never know when it could be. Continue to work hard and your dreams will come true. It has been an honor to play with you all and I can't wait to see where life takes you,” Boyd said.

And for her coaches, teachers and mentors, Boyd had the utmost appreciation.

“Thank you all for believing in me and pushing me to my fullest potential. Without you, I would not be where I am today.”

Eastside softball’s Keely Balthis

Eastside’s Keely Balthis, 18, has had to endure two years off the diamond. Last year, she transferred to Eastside from Central High School and in doing so, lost her junior year of eligibility. She had a successful start in her freshman and sophomore years as a Lady Warrior.

“I had a really great two years at Central, but my junior year I decided to transfer back to Eastside to finish my last two years,” Balthis said. “I had gone to Coeburn my whole life until I transferred my ninth grade year. I wanted to finish where I started and with the people with whom I started.”

Balthis is unsure of which college she will be attending or whether or not she wants to continue playing softball, but she will be studying to be a dental hygienist.

Missing out on two years of softball has been hard for Balthis. She was really looking forward to getting back on the field with her teammates.

“Getting to play this final season is all I want and would mean the world to me. The team we have is a very talented team and I think we could go as far as we want. I was so excited to be a part of this team,” Balthis said of the Lady Spartans.

Balthis was also looking forward to getting to play for Eastside head coach Suzi Atwood.

“Although I never got to officially play for coach Suzi, she is one of the best people and coaches I know,” Balthis said.

Even if the seniors do not get a final season, Balthis is confident that the Lady Spartans will be successful next season.

“I know our underclassmen will be even stronger next year. I encourage them to take in every moment, even the bad ones, because like us seniors, you may not get a next time. I am excited to see how far they all go and what they do with their lives and softball careers. Even though this season is not going the way we all planned, I am blessed to be apart of this team for the time we had,” Balthis said.

Central baseball’s EJ McDaniel

EJ McDaniel has spent the majority of his 18 years playing basketball, football and baseball. But after his freshman year, he has devoted his athletic ability solely to baseball.

“Baseball has really always been my passion,” McDaniel said.

McDaniel will be continuing his baseball career as he attends Berea College in the fall.

McDaniel is crestfallen at the thought of not having a senior baseball season.

“It's really disheartening for not only me, but our whole senior class that our last year was cut short. It’s also really sad for all of the spring sports athletes that have been waiting all year to compete in their sports,” McDaniel said.

To his teammates, McDaniel leaves a message of ambition.

“All I can say is, (we have to) have hope. There's still a chance we get to play, and if not, continue to work hard and prepare for next season. All of you guys have my support for whatever you need,” McDaniel said.