As with every aspect of life, Mother’s Day will have a different feel this year. This is especially true for a pair of area track and field coaches whose lives have been turned upside down, even before spring sports were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Both Lapel’s Krista Loller and Frankton’s Kristin Quimby were looking forward to another season of coaching their children, a rewarding experience for both. Luke and Lucy Loller are sophomores on the Lapel team and Kayla Quimby is a senior for Frankton, all with high hopes for successful seasons as they continue their family traditions of running.
The roots of Krista’s troubles this spring originated at the 2004 Indianapolis 500 when, following a rain delay, she carried her then 4-year old son, Hunter, from their car to watch the race. The action resulted in a herniated disc, an injury that has plagued her ever since. The injury became unbearable following a New Year’s Day walk this year that led to steroid injections and a subsequent back surgery March 3. Just now able to begin moving around, she was not going to be able to coach for her 12th season this year.
She feels fortunate to have gotten the surgery when she did, just prior to suspension of operations that were not considered an emergency procedure.
“I was so lucky to have gotten it done when I did,” Krista said. “If I knew then what I know now, I would have speeded the ball up a little faster. That pain, there’s nothing like back pain.”
With his mom in need of assistance, Luke was planning to skip spring track season all together and stay home. The sprinter and tennis player felt his attention should be on something more important than sports.
“I’m more the caretaker of the family and the gentle, loving one,” Luke said. “I try to be there when other people need me.”
“He’s been my little sidekick through this whole thing,” Krista said.
“Luke is definitely more of the caretaker. I’m not that type of person really,” Lucy said. “It’s given her time to slow down and relax a little more. … And she’s getting better every day.”
For Kristin Quimby, a registered nurse who works in the research department at Community Hospital — helping to gain approval for new medicines and treatments — COVID-19 was going to make her ability to attend track meets a struggle.
Due to the pandemic, she is frequently on call. When she is needed, those issues cannot be addressed over the phone but rather while sitting at a computer terminal. Had the track season been somehow undertaken, she would not have been able to be there with her daughter if she were on call.
“I have to be able to respond within minutes,” Kristin said. “It’s not something I can do over the phone at a track meet. I would have to be at the office in minutes and respond to those needs. There would have been several meets I would not have been able to attend.”
When spring sports were canceled by the IHSAA in March, both coaches felt disappointment. Not only for their own kids, but for all the athletes who would miss out on the season.
For the Quimbys, it was the loss of a chance for the daughter to take part in a school record her mother had once owned during her time at Frankton.
“They should have been able to qualify again for indoor state in the 4x400 and possibly the 4x800,” Kristin said. “They have been itching for that 4x400 school record for the four years that (Kayla) has been a part of that team.”
Kayla was just starting to hit her stride as a runner after some physical problems slowed her down early in her career. She had high hopes for this spring after a strong fall on the cross country team.
“I was really hopeful,” Kayla said. “I was really looking forward to it. We were just a little off. We were one second off my sophomore year at sectional.”
“She was ready for a breakthrough,” Kristin added.
While Krista still has two more years with her youngest — sectional champion son Hunter is in training to become a conservation officer and daughter Noelle just completed a solid freshman season running at Anderson University — there was still disappointment for the Lollers.
Lucy was hoping to build momentum off a strong cross country season and will also miss out on a chance to star in the school’s spring musical, “The Wizard of Oz.”
But there is also a silver lining for these athletes and their moms, who are both described as moms for the other athletes on the team as well.
Without the daily rush of school and spring sports, they have all been able to spend extra time with their families this spring, including game nights and dinner served at 6 p.m. rather than 9:30 or 10 p.m. after a track meet.
“I’ve been thinking about this, and I think it’s a good time for us to slow down and think more,” Lucy said. “I’ve been glad to be thinking more.”
“Noelle still runs every day, and that’s something we can do together,” Krista said. “I walk because she surpassed me years ago. Luke will come with us, so not just time (together) but quality time.”
“More time with family, less hustle and bustle,” Kristin, whose younger son, Tyler, would have been a freshman baseball player this spring, said. “Dinner is on the table by 6:30, and we’re all together, so there is a silver lining. I miss my athletes. They’re all kind of my kids. You do have to stand back and remind yourself that there are still blessings.”
“I enjoy having this time where we aren’t all rushing around,” Kayla, who will continue her career at St. Francis this fall, said. “We can talk about our day and things we saw.”
So Mother’s Day will not be occupied by discussions about the previous day’s track meet this year, but the Lollers and Quimbys will still be together and will still be celebrating.
“I’m really proud of her and look up to her because she’s always there to help people,” Kayla said.
“I just wish her a Happy Mother’s Day,” Luke said.