It all started with a bad joke.
It ended with, well, nothing. An even worse joke.
When sports came to a screeching halt in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I quipped to my editor that the good news was that we saved about $1,000 on medals for the Record-Eagle/John Lober Honor Roll Track Meet the newspaper sponsors annually. Every year until this one.
I always look for the bright spot, and there wasn’t much of one amid the pandemic.
However, that saying spawned the idea of using that saved money to create all-star type games for seniors in baseball, softball and girls soccer to try to salvage something out of this spring sports season that never was. Rowing happily jumped on board the Record-Eagle Summer Classic series as well and a late July week would have life breathed into it by high school sports.
Then word came down Monday morning that insurance paperwork for the games was held up because of COVID-19.
This really sucks.
It’s truly disappointing, and the last few days blurred on by while struggling to figure out what to say.
Much of this week was going to be putting the final touches on arrangements, followed by a glorious week of the return of high school sports. Four days of athletic endeavors that would have been captured with a special section the next weekend.
It hurts to say “was going to be” and “would have been.” Past tense viciously delivers a gut punch.
I failed to deliver. And that’s not a good feeling.
Monday evening hit hard as more than 100 senior baseball and softball players received texts with the bad news. Every one of those names — kids robbed of a season, given a glimmer of hope to play one more time, then having that stripped as well — is in my contact list as a reminder of the carnage this virus wrought for everyone.
A lot of these kids just wanted a little closure to their senior season. It’s rough when you never knew at the time it was your last game. At least they would know this time and get to soak it all in. Or so we hoped.
One silver lining in all this is setting in place a framework for this to be an annual all-star event, once we leave all this COVID business behind. Seniors down the road can thank this year’s involuntary sacrifice by seniors as the reason their careers can be extended just a little bit.
It wouldn’t be fair to not mention a bunch of coaches and folks who really helped make this an almost reality. Mike Thompson, Sandy Clausen, Abe Cruz, Dave Kenny, Tom Hardy, Tom Passinault, Pat McDonald, Matt Bocian, John Neph, Mickey Graham, Scott Conway, Jeff Ross, Levi Gourdie, John Sonnemann and Barb Beckett.
Since the games won’t happen, we’re going to roll out hypothetical spring Dream Teams in those sports, based upon 2019 statistics, our own knowledge and coaches’ input.
So there’s a modicum of good taken from the vastness of bad.
But, still, damn you, COVID-19.