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Winters Mill’s Justin Toney coping with potential loss of lacrosse season

Emotions flowed through Kristy Toney’s voice when mentioning that her son, Justin Toney, may not be able to finish his senior lacrosse season at Winters Mill High School.

“His senior year of lacrosse is especially important because when he was little, they would have the father-son game and it was really hard because his dad wasn’t around,” Toney said. “So, it’s only been me involved with him. [I’ve been] getting him to this point and getting him to where he can play in college and putting in all of the extra work and working multiple jobs to be able to make that happen.”

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It’s not due to injury nor a suspension, but something out of their control — coronavirus.

As the virus has swept the nation and world at-large, it has affected many athletes on a personal level. All U.S. professional sports leagues have postponed their seasons, and Maryland’s public schools aren’t set to re-open until April 27 — meaning spring sports are at risk of being canceled.

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Justin’s senior year was set to be his first time manning the goalie position for Winters Mill since a labrum tear in his hip set him back a season prior. He said he worked hard during the summer, played club lacrosse, and returned to high school sports action in the fall as a middle linebacker on the football team.

He envisioned a moment that he would be able to walk onto the field with his mother to celebrate Senior Night as a lacrosse player in the spring, just as he did in the fall.

Now, he may never get that chance.

“Even when I was in rec league in middle school, one of the things that we did was go to Westminster High School to watch one of their Senior Night games,” Toney said. "It was where they all came out onto the field and a bunch of the guys were asking girls to the prom. I was in the eighth grade and that was right before going to high school [and playing] lacrosse. Even more than that, this is something that I look forward to every year to go out and play with my friends, who I’ve been playing lacrosse with since early in elementary school.

“It’s hard to even think about because I was fortunate enough to play more than one sport — I played football in the fall. Just knowing all of the memories that I made with the seniors that I’m going to carry on and all of the fun stuff that we did, I’m not going to be able to do with all of my friends that I play lacrosse with and not going to be able to make those connections anymore.”

Toney has been appreciative for the time that she’s shared with her son in sports. She’s seen him compete in football, wrestling, and lacrosse, and though their time may be up in high school, she has looked back fondly at her favorite moments.

“I have some very good memories from those sports — with his teammates, being a team mom, dinners, senior swim, Senior Night — just games that were big rivalries that they played well in," Kristy Toney said. “We had great relationships with the coaches and each game, after the game he’d come to the fence and those are just really special memories.”

There is always a bright side.

Justin said he’s undecided on which college he’s headed to in the fall. The indecision doesn’t span to whether he will play lacrosse next season. Though he appreciated the sport and knew that it could easily be taken away from him due to injury, he will now fight harder after the outbreak of COVID-19.

“It means everything because now you can see easily everything can be taken away,” Toney said. “Literally in 30 seconds, with one person talking on the news, you were no longer allowed to do the thing that you’ve been practicing now for like 13 years of your life.

“So, it’s just all that more important. You can’t take it for granted, you’ve got to enjoy every moment.”

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