OPINION: Covering sports in this strange new era of coronavirus
Perhaps the coronavirus is a reader of mine.
After talking some smack on COVID-19 in my last column and noting the fact that the pandemic has not been able to completely sideline sports this fall, the virus set its sights on me and I unfortunately was diagnosed with COVID-19 not long after the column came out.
Well played virus, well played.
Thankfully, my only true side effects were a loss of taste and smell, which is what prompted me to get tested and I know there are many others who have not been so fortunate. I cannot imagine the hardships they are going through, but I hope they continue to fight on. While I have always worn a mask at every game or practice I have attended during the summer and the fall, I am also thankful that my diagnosis did not lead the health department to have to make a call to any player, coach or team.
I wish the virus could have picked a better time to come after me, though, because while I was on the proverbial bench and quarantined at home for 10 days, there were some great events taking place that I could not attend.
One of the first big events that I unfortunately missed was the Versailles Softball Tournament on September 26 where the hometown Tigers dug in and won some great battles on their way to a championship that evening. For a team that won one game all season just three short years ago, and seven games in total last season, it has been quite a turnaround for a program that finished the regular season this fall at 15-10.
One of my favorite parts of this gig is covering the battles in any sport between Lake area schools and seeing the history they share. Another missed opportunity to do that came on September 28 when the Macks Creek softball team hosted its neighbor Climax Springs. The Pirates were able to win that one in a brand new venue at Ballparks National and these two sides were also scheduled to meet in the district playoffs on October 14.
That day on September 28 was an especially tough one for me as I also missed the Tri-County Conference golf tournament at Eldon Golf Club where School of the Osage was also in action. Eldon senior Kassidy Hull, who has put together quite an extensive resume in her Mustang career, won her third straight conference championship and she is currently preparing for her fourth state tournament where she has earned All-State honors the past two seasons.
Just one day later, Eldon and Versailles met on the softball diamond and it was a fight to the finish as the Tigers and Mustangs went to extra innings where senior Lauren Garrison delivered the game-winning RBI single in the eighth. It was also a great pitching matchup between Versailles junior Joscelynn Marriott and Eldon junior Chloe Ruark who each pitched a complete game and then some, going all eight innings and combining for 14 strikeouts.
Another great Lake area showdown took place just a couple days later when Osage and Eldon met on the volleyball court and went all five sets with the Indians finding a way to win it 15-12 in the final set. Eldon junior Caroline Beckmann paced the Mustangs with 23 kills in the attack and Osage seniors Carly Hambly and Sara Wolf led the Indians with 12 kills each while Wolf, junior Shelby Spriggs and Eldon junior Tatum Frank served up four aces each. Frank and Spriggs also led their defenses as Frank racked up 18 digs and Spriggs put together 23. Seemingly, another exciting event from start to finish.
While I was still able to write about these events from the comfort of my own home during quarantine, nothing can replace being there in person to capture great shots and video highlights while also conducting interviews with players and coaches. That is a victory the virus can claim but I am back in the field and ready to continue delivering coverage on all the teams around the Lake.
On my first day back I had the privilege of covering the annual Laker Invitational cross country race at Ha Ha Tonka State Park in Camdenton and it was a breath of fresh air in the early morning hours on October 3 (no pun intended). It was refreshing to see runners representing many different schools, with Camdenton, Osage and Macks Creek among them, and know the virus was not able to stop it in one of the largest meets the Lakers have likely hosted.
So, I’ll say it again, if you’re paying attention coronavirus- you have not been able to completely stop all sports, or myself, and I think I may be able to speak for many when I say this is a battle we all intend for you to lose.
To all of you out there, keep fighting the good fight.