Premont, Texas is a small community that sits on Highway 281 between Alice and Falfurrias and a population of just under 3000. The town is home to the Premont Collegiate High School Cowboys and Cowgirls athletic teams. Many of their athletes are multi-sport players. The Premont community has a very strong support for their athletes and follow them throughout their careers, some as far back as youth sports, all of them throughout their times as varsity athletes.
Four of those seniors are members of the Cowgirls varsity softball team coached by Coaches Christopher Ruiz and Marissa Cantu. Outfielder April Mata, daughter of Sarah Solis and Aaron McCarty, Audrey Morales, who plays second base, daughter of Christina Davila and Juan Moralez, right-fielder Jocelynn Garza, daughter of Kelly and Jesus Garza and finally left-fielder Natalia De La Garza, daughter of Yvonne and Luis De La Garza.
Aside from softball, they all have common career aspirations. Each plan to pursue a career in the medical field as registered nurses. Mata, Moralez and Garza each plan to attend Coastal Bend College although Audrey plans to transfer later to Texas A&M University Corpus Christi (TAMUCC). De La Garza plans to enter the nursing program at Del Mar College. They also all have remained active in other sports and extra-curricular activities, not only in high school but also throughout their lives.
"I was about five or six when I started playing little league softball," Mata said. "I also played volleyball, basketball, I was in band for four years and captain of the Color guard."
"Premont didn’t have softball for a while but we got it back about two or three years ago," Moralez said. "I started to play softball my sophomore year. I was also the captain of varsity volleyball my senior year."
Moralez lettered in cross country and track and tennis. She also played basketball for two years and was a varsity cheerleader for two years, competing in state.
"I was five years old when I started playing little league softball," Garza said. "I also play volleyball."
"I also played volleyball my junior year and was manager my senior year," De la Garza said. "I’m currently taking phlebotomy classes through the school zone programs that are available to us here."
Growing up in Premont, the girls have always felt support from the community, especially now that so much has changed due to recent global events that have altered every aspect of life.
"The community has (always) been very supportive with everything," Mata said. "They try their best to go and support (at games) and if they can’t, they will see us at school or at the grocery store and give us compliments, cheering and chanting for us to win or at least do our very best."
"The community has been great," Moralez said. "Since our stores are limited of supplies, our restaurants have been providing our community with the supplies and food they need."
Moralez added that the Premont Pride Staff would be having a small parade around town so that students could see their teachers.
"I think our administration has done a great job keeping the community informed, " Coach Ruiz said. "As soon as new information has been released from the governor, UIL, etc...that information is given to the community and Premont staff very quickly through community pages, email and Facebook."
"Parent support is also very active and beneficial. I talk to multiple parents a day about student work and progress," Ruiz said. "Our cafeteria staff also makes sure that our students and nearby students are fed, not only during the week but also on weekends"
"All Premont supporters complement and encourage all students to not let this COVID-19 pandemic ruin the joys of our senior year." De la Garza said, "We might not have been able to play a full season of softball but we can still create memories through all our social networking and stay together as the Class of 2020!"
Like many other athletes who have been affected, the Premont Cowgirls and making due with what is available to them to be able to stay game ready for when they are able to return to the field. Because they are not able to participate in team practices, they are left to play catch at home with family as well as use workouts sent to them through remote coaching. Still, they miss the action and the camaraderie they share on the field.
"(I miss) walking into our school and making each and every day count for our last year," De la Garza said. "and enjoying softball practice and games in our Texas heat."
"These girls have been my teammates for years since we started this program, and even other sports" Moralez said, "This is very difficult, especially that this is our senior year and this will be our last time on the field together."
"Practicing as a whole team, not being able to go to the school on a regular basis and making memories for our last year," Mata said. "Having softball games as well and just being on the field together one last time is what we all miss."
"Our senior year is supposed to be the best year of all four highschool years that we have," Moralez said. "I am really missing spending time with my teammates and classmates."
"We hated running and being told what to do but now since we can’t do that because of COVID-19, we want to do all that again," Mata said. "Just to spend our last year together like we are supposed to. I’m really missing my teammates and coaches, along with my classmates."
Although their season was cut short and the senior year has been altered, they still have memories of games they played together. They have those moments that they all share as a team. For April Mata, one game stood out above the rest was the game right before Spring Break, a very intense game the put the Cowgirls undefeated in District play and and in positive momentum.
The Cowgirls varsity softball seniors remain optimistic through everything and believe that this is another challenge that can be overcome.
"We can get through this COVID-19 pandemic," De la Garza said. "Most of our classmates were born in the time our nation was attacked. Some of our great grandparents went through the Great Depression. If they can overcome that era, we, as a great nation with many supportive communities like our own, can overcome any test with help of the great man upstairs, God."
"We have an amazing group of girls and I think that is a huge reflection of our whole student body and the Premont community," Coach Ruiz said. "Stay strong and stay ready in case we are given the opportunity."
"We, Premont Collegiate Cowgirls never give up," Moralez added.