There’s no going back, but the start of high school spring sports seems like a do-over in North Dakota.
The coronavirus pandemic that’s invaded our daily lives took root in the state a year ago.
The virus shut down the North Dakota state Class B boys basketball tournament in mid-March 2020 – then swallowed up the entirety of high school spring sports across the state.
It’s been a strange, difficult and mask-filled year to get back to this point.
Back to the point where a teenage pitcher can grab a ball and sprint out to the mound in a varsity baseball game.
Back to a time when high school relay teams huddle in the infield of a track, because there’s an unspoken rule that track meets in North Dakota occur only when it’s 40 degrees outside.
Or when gale-force winds make it feel like it’s 40.
Back to a day when young golfers ditch classes for the day and grip it and rip it on a golf course 20 miles outside Fargo, where people build homes I can’t afford.
Finally, after 12 long months, we’re back to that point.
There’s a lingering sadness that so many high school seniors lost out on their spring seasons a year ago.
Hillsboro-Central Valley’s track teams were loaded with talented seniors a year ago.
There are no do-overs for those athletes.
But, for this year’s seniors, and every underclassman taking part in a sport they love this spring, it’s an exciting time filled with relief.
That excitement extends to our staff here, who braved those aforementioned gale-force winds Monday in Casselton to cover a high school track meet.
We’re pumped to be back covering your kids on the baseball and softball diamonds, at their track meets and on those golf courses with the homes we’ll never live in.
We stayed up late this week burning the midnight oil to crank out today’s six-page color sports section.
We hope you enjoy it.
These sections are a lot of work, but special issues like these give the kids we cover and their parents a keepsake of sorts.
It’s something they can hold on to after their kids’ playing days are over.
And in this day and age – and amid the ever-present fear that COVID-19 will shut down a team’s season – we need to treasure those moments.
Because if the past year has taught us anything, it’s that those experiences can be ripped away at a moment’s notice.
So grab those foldable seats and a beverage that won’t get you arrested on school grounds and head out to the fields or to a local meet.
It’s time for spring sports. And hope springs eternal.