IF THE HAT FITS: Saying goodbye to the 2020-2021 school year

·3 min read

May 15—Today is the final day.

As the final events take place today, we are seeing the official end of Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association competition for the 2020-2021 school year. And wow, what a journey it was to get to this point.

At this time last year, there was still debate on how to properly and safely open up athletics after the shutdown in March.

The OSSAA eventually decided to allow schools to open up the weight rooms, gyms, and practice fields so that our student-athletes could come together once again — just with new health and safety protocols in place.

The road was quite a bumpy one, especially from the start. Masks, extensive sanitation methods, social distancing, and games being canceled at a moment's notice was a lot to get used to in the beginning.

But we all learned along the way, had some setbacks, adjusted once again, and now here we are at the end of a very long year. And as I look back on it all, I think I'm going to remember a lot of the good more than the bad.

I think back to the fall and the wild football finishes we witnessed around the area. From nail biters to history makers, we had a little bit of it all. It was especially cool to see Quinton break a long playoff drought and for McAlester to put together one of the most dramatic and fun playoff runs in a long time.

I think back to January and the Pitt 8 Conference Basketball Tournament. It was my first to cover as sports editor, and boy did it not disappoint. So many great performances from Stuart, Crowder, Kiowa, Pittsburg, and so many more. I was absolutely exhausted by the time it ended — although I later found out I had caught COVID-19.

After I emerged from quarantine, I jumped right back into basketball playoffs. I put in a lot of miles and covered a lot of games — including exciting runs at the state basketball tournaments.

I then jumped directly into spring sports. It felt good to be outside and in the sun after what felt like forever. And as I was freshly fully vaccinated, I was ready to be anywhere and everywhere.

From baseball games at Mike Deak Field to the Pitt 8 Tournament in Haileyville. I witnessed history as Lady Buffs soccer made the playoffs for the first time in school history, and many, many more athletes and teams from all over the area reach various state tournaments and matches.

It honestly felt amazing to be back. I know there's a lot we're going to carry with us into the future from the last 14 months, but there's a lot of good there as well.

We fully understand now how much these games, moments, and people mean to us, and I don't think we'll ever take it for granted again.

So enjoy this summer, friends. I'll be working hard on a few projects in the coming months, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't also looking forward to getting back together again in August.

Contact Derek Hatridge at dhatridge@mcalesternews.com.

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