What a difference a year can make. As the spring school sports season draws toward its end, it’s worth reflecting on some of life’s simple joys that were wrenched from us last year by the pandemic but have thankfully returned, like eager young players hitting the field as their loved ones cheer them on from the stands.
It’s also worth noting that, across Berkshire County, many high school athletes and their respective squads haven’t lost a step, despite a disruptive past year for athletics. The Wahconah boys lacrosse and Mount Greylock girls tennis teams each netted a Division III regional title last week.
Taconic baseball also notched a Western Massachusetts D-III regional championship, and while there was no high school baseball season last year due to the pandemic, this was the fourth consecutive Western Mass. title for Taconic. The Braves are the first Berkshire baseball team to rack up four straight regional championships, and also the first to win a Western Mass. title on their home diamond.
Today, they head to Springfield for the state semifinals, and if they’re victorious against the Advanced Math and Science Academy charter school of Marlborough, Taconic will advance to the final round Monday to vie for a third state title in the last four seasons.
We wish the Taconic baseball squad luck, but they’ve already made the Berkshires proud, as has every school sports team in the county that’s hopped back on the horse for the love of the game after an unprecedented year. That these young players on the county’s regional champion teams are competing at the level they are is a credit to their toughness and hard work. But it’s also thanks to the dedication of coaches and other athletic staff working to bridge the continuity gap brought on by the coronavirus crisis. The families of student-athletes deserve a shout-out as well, as last year was very different and often difficult for them, too. Some sports simply couldn’t be played at all last year; others required players — and in turn families — to adapt to new schedules and regimens so practices and matches were held safely. And for many loved ones who love nothing more than cheering on these young athletes in person, that was robbed from them last year.
Thankfully, they can now do that once again. Let it be one of those things that we perhaps took for granted pre-COVID that we now treasure all the more.