COLUMN: Welcoming the return of local sports

Pierre LaBossiere

IT’S BEEN ALMOST exactly a year. A year of dashed hopes and crushing lows. A few days of despair. Some false starts. Other days in which hopes were raised. A year that tested our faith and resolve.

But, finally prep sports is back. Finally.

Actually, it slowly returned a couple of weeks ago with some cross country events.

We all thought prep sports was returning in force last weekend, but Mother Nature had something to say about that. A number of events set for the weekend were postponed due to snow.

This week, it begins for real with cross country hopefully finding some snow-free trails to run on, girls’ soccer, volleyball, girls swim and dive and, this weekend, our weekend of prep football — Sequim hosting new Olympic League foe Bainbridge (just for one year) at 4 p.m. Friday. Port Angeles travels to South Kitsap to play the JV team Saturday, Forks is at Onalaska and the Chimacum/Port Townsend combined team (East Jefferson) at North Mason.

What a year it’s been. When sports ground to a sudden halt in March 2020, to be honest, I assumed it would be for a few weeks. I honestly believed we’d be back to normal by the end of April.

Then April became the end of the school year and so we thought, “well, sports will be coming back in the fall.”

Hope, again the stubborn pandemic refused to abate. The only thing that kept me sane last summer was spending three or four days a week hiking in Olympic National Park. I managed to get in good shape for a while and picked up hundreds of mosquito bites in the process. I also plowed through every episode of Game of Thrones and eventually got damn good at Doom Eternal.

After the summer, it appeared sports would return at the end of 2020, but by then, the infection rates were spiraling completely out of control, especially in other areas of the state. Honestly, at that point, I started taking a more pessimistic view that it might be September 2021 before there would be any local sports again.

Then, slowly, the tide began turning. Vaccines were rolled out, vaccine production was ramped up, infection rates started dropping eventually. The bleak feeling all fall and winter started slowly lifting. It looked like sports could return at the beginning of February, then that got put off for two weeks.

Then after the area finally went into Phase 2 last week, sports was again delayed by snowy weather. I literally went out into the snow on one of my off days last week and looked up into the sky and said out loud, “this … just … isn’t … fair.”

And, generally, I love the snow. Just not right now.

I reminded myself that as difficult as this year has been for me personally, it’s been even harder for the kids, especially the seniors last year who lost their final year of sports. The kids this year who have also had to endure all those false starts and those peaks and valleys. I can’t imagine the stress some of them have gone through and I urge all those kids to really, really savor the moment now when they’re back out playing again. They’ve learned a very painful lesson of just how easily it can all be taken away. Take nothing for granted.

Anyway, that’s all the past. Today, we look to the future. A full slate beginning this weekend.

One day this week I felt like I spent an entire day just making arrangements for photo and reporter coverage. I caught myself thinking, “this is just like the old days” in which I’d have to largely dedicate one day a week to just making coverage arrangements.

Anyway, we’re super excited at the Peninsula Daily News to be back in the sports groove. I’m personally thankful to Sound Publishing and the PDN management for keeping Michael Carman and I on staff during this difficult year. Many, many people in the newspaper business were not as fortunate. And for many of those people, those jobs may be lost forever.

And we thank our readers for sticking with us, too.

We need a little bit of help from some of the people in the sports world. It’s been a full year since we’ve heard from some of you and we’re scrambling right now to catch up, especially with some of the smaller schools. Some of these schools likely have some new coaches we haven’t made contact with yet.

We’re getting around to getting a hold of as many of you as we can as quickly as we can. In the meantime, some of you coaches, especially the new coaches we haven’t met yet, can send results, schedules, rosters and statistics to [email protected]

________

Sports Editor Pierre LaBossiere can be contacted at plabossiere @peninsuladailynews.com.

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