Article added: 09-07-2021
Back to school; it means something different to each student. While some look forward to the routine of the school day, others are eager to see friends on a daily basis. Moving up a grade means new challenges, tougher assignments, and often more personal responsibility. Where summer can be the carefree time of lounging, hanging with friends or working a few hours a week, the school/life balance is about to begin again. This is especially true for those who will also be returning to the field, pitch, course and court this fall.
To say the last few seasons of high school sports have been a challenge would be a true understatement. Before 2020, a season being canceled was something that wasn’t even a remote thought in the minds of coaches, athletes or parents, but all across the country it happened. The graduating class of 2020 missed out on their final seasons of baseball, softball, track and field, and golf. And while there are definitely bigger hardships that have come out of the pandemic, missing out on your final year of high school competition is something that will continue to sting those athletes for years to come.
While the class of 2020 has moved on, the classes of ’21 and ’22, and beyond, were subject to a time of constant changes and challenges, mandates, rules and safety protocols. Some districts played on while others postponed seasons. A few traditional rivalry games were lost, and opportunities to play competition outside the area or the state were limited—if allowed at all. For some seniors, fall football and volleyball were held this past spring. When those seasons wrapped up, they hardly had time to catch a breath before track, baseball and golf started up to finish out the year. While most will say they are thankful to have had the opportunity to finish out their career, it was, again, not an ideal situation.
As we head into the fall sports season of 2021, things are seemingly heading toward a more “normal” season. Teams have been practicing and training all summer long, together. Where virtual meetings and distanced, low-contact practices were once a mandate, kids are once again working together as a team, side by side, learning to hone their skills and to overcome the challenges each day of practice brings. Any coach will tell you that you can have all the best players, but if they can’t come together as a team, their accomplishments will fall short of their expectations. And while kids may loathe the two-a-days, or the wind sprints, or the constant whistles of a tough day on the field, everyone going through it as one will produce the bonds needed to create that team environment that will be key to a successful season.
Let’s also not forget the benefits that come with being part of a team. While some athletes are training year-round in hopes of landing a scholarship to play at the next level, the vast majority, even some of the very best players you see, will finish their competitive sports career in high school. And while winning is important, for many, just being part of a team, trying to get better, and showing up for your teammates are just as important as getting the “W.” Team sports help form friendships that might not have otherwise happened. Younger athletes see how older members of the team lead and take lessons from the experience that will translate when it becomes their turn to lead the team. Coaches might push their athletes hard to be better, and while the student might not appreciate it at first, they soon realize the impact that coach’s daily lessons are having on other aspects of their lives.
Teams have put in the prep, and the season is here. Cross country, volleyball, soccer, football and others are ready to compete again. And while we still aren’t back to normal, with some districts requiring masking in the weight room or of the coaching staff, most competitors will gladly take a few additional steps in order to have a full season of competition in the sports they love so much.
Kids are once again working together as a team, side by side, learning to hone their skills and to overcome the challenges each day of practice brings.
As fans and spectators, let’s celebrate all this hard work and dedication. As we prepare to pack the stands again, let’s cheer a little louder and show how proud we are of the hard work young athletes put in, no matter the outcome. Let’s also recognize the times and be respectful of the rules each district has in place for players and fans and in no way jeopardize another game or season based upon actions up in the stands.
The fall sports season is here. Stand up and cheer. A simple “Great job” or “Keep your head up” can mean the world to an athlete who will experience both highs and lows throughout the season. Let’s make this season one to remember!
FALL SPORTS SCHEDULES GO BULLDOGS! Sandpoint High School | SandpointAthletics.com
Football: Saturday, September 11 vs. Lake City
Girls Soccer: Friday, September 10 vs. Lake City
Volleyball: Friday, September 10 vs. Coeur d’Alene
Boys Soccer: Sunday, September 26 vs. Lewiston
Cross Country: Sunday, October 10, Sandpoint Invitational