Spring is finally in the air.
For the first time in almost two years, the Patriots and Tigers are set to take to the diamond, the track and the links.
Last April - when the COVID-19 pandemic first began to take hold in the state and in the lakes area, closing schools and businesses - the Minnesota State High School League announced that all activities and athletics that occur during the spring season would be canceled for the 2019-20 school year.
It was an unprecedented decision. The entire world was wrapped in uncertainty at the time, so it was perhaps understandable, but to have baseball, softball, track and field, golf and trap shooting simply not take place one spring is a truly unique situation - one we will likely, and hopefully, never see again.
And so, thoughts of the spring of 2020 are filled with what-ifs. Would Pine River-Backus’ Brady Raph have capped his stellar high school golf career with a state championship? How would a respectable Patriot boys golf team have finished? What might we have seen from the Patriot track and field teams after a very successful 2019 season?
We will never know. It’s like being enthralled in a good book, only to get to the end and find the last page has been torn out.
Of course, one has to feel for the class of 2020 - a group of passionate athletes who lost their senior seasons because of circumstances far beyond their control - but I think it is important to remember that the spring of 2020 affected all athletes.
Yes, the senior class was the one to end on a sour note, but the underclassmen also lost an entire season of a sport they love and missed out on some valuable experiences and positive memories in the process.
Competitively, there may be some notable ramifications as well. I would argue that varsity experience is one of the most valuable things a team can have. Since this year’s seniors were sophomores the last time Pequot Lakes and PR-B fielded teams, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think varsity experience may be a hard commodity to come by this spring.
Regardless, athletes, coaches and fans can all take solace in the simple fact that spring sports are actually happening this year. After the cancellation of sports last spring, the uncertainty of sports in the fall and the delayed start to the winter seasons, I think it is safe to say nothing in high school sports is being taken for granted.
So join me in wishing the Tigers and Patriots a spring free of injuries and inclement weather, and full of success.