At the end of each sports season, our high school coaches traditionally organize a “banquet”. It’s often a potluck, with families smiling on as the coach highlights something positive about each player.
This year’s sports season was a bit of a triumph over circumstances. The players, coaches, referees and onlookers all wore masks. The away bus windows stayed open, no matter the weather. Many opposing teams didn’t allow any spectators. At home, only immediate family could attend, and only if we signed up ahead of time. At the entrance, instead of paying for a ticket, we signed a contact tracing form. The season started late and included less games. One match was called off at the half: a teacher at the school had just been tested positive and the entire school shut down all sporting events that afternoon—and the school for the next day.
Still, they played. One small amount of normal life was preserved, albeit with a few unique qualities.
For this final piece, the JV coach pushed determinedly to find a way to celebrate the girls’ efforts in this strange year. A normal banquet was not allowed, so she switched to gathering just the teammates themselves. (Parents were offered an option to watch by Zoom.) Pizza was not approved either, but she still promised them a special snack.
She worked hardest at the logistics. Our weather has suddenly gone very cold, with snow staying on the ground for the past four days now. After careful forecasting, she chose tonight’s slight warmup as the best of the week. Determined to find a scenic spot, she’s called them all to an apple orchard.
A soccer “banquet” of apple cider and donuts. An entire team of JV soccer girls, sitting with masks, six feet apart, surrounding their coach. A shortened season, but one still filled with energy and enthusiasm.
All of it done with a backdrop of the sweeping, long-range views Vermont is famous for. Kudos to this first-year coach for pulling off a special way to celebrate a unique time in their lives. It was my silver lining for today.