HOWARD — Joni Mitchell sang, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you have til it’s gone,” in her 1970 ballad “Big Yellow Taxi”.

She was singing about an environmental issue of knocking down trees to, “put up a parking lot.”

East Knox senior thrower Bryan Hockenberry offered up the same sentiment when discussing a different type of environmental issue … the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schools have shuttered, sending students home to learn. Spring sports have been postponed with a no-contact order in place by the Ohio High School Athletic Association, sending athletes to try to keep in shape on their own. Maybe the doors open again on April 6. Maybe not.

But it’s not just the everyday hustle and bustle of roaming the halls or the rush to practice every afternoon that senior students are missing. It’s the proms and graduations too.

“After you graduate, you won’t have that high school sports experience that you’ve had with these kids that you’ve grown up with … these kids that you’ve known for your whole life,” Hockenberry said. “Losing that opportunity to just enjoy the last couple of months of your high school career and your high school experience is just something that no one wants to have happen.

“As much as people may say that they don’t like school or track practice sucks or baseball practice sucks … you don’t really realize what you have until it’s gone.”

“It stinks because when you’re a senior — you want to be spending as much time with your friends as you can,” senior baseball player Gage Steinmetz said. “Keeping people safe is ultimately the most important thing.”

The Bulldog baseball team was returning a hefty senior class from last year’s district finalist team.

“We were really excited to have the season,” Steinmetz said. “But it’s one of those things where you wish you would have taken better advantage of your opportunities in earlier years where we so close, but didn’t get where we ultimately wanted to be. That’s one of those lessons … you take advantage of every opportunity that you have.”

Hockenberry had big plans for the track and field season too.

“I was really hoping to possibly make it to state in discus this year,” he said. “With some of the improvements that I’ve seen in shot put, I had a pretty good chance to make it to regional and possibly state.”

Hockenberry is planning on signing with Mount Vernon Nazarene. He’ll be trading his shot put and discus for a hammer with the Cougars.

Steinmetz plans to pursue education at MVNU. He’d like to teach science or English at the fourth to ninth-grade levels. Baseball is not part of the plan.

“This might be the end of it for me and my buddies,” Steinmetz said. “So, I’m really hoping we can get back out there.”

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Michael Rich: 740-397-5333 or mrich@mountvernonnews.com and on Twitter, @mrichnotwealthy