Rob Hunt column: Remembering a developing storm

Rob Hunt, The Herald Bulletin, Anderson, Ind.
·3 min read

Mar. 11—It was one year ago the world changed.

This same week of 2020 was very similar to 2021. Our sports department was spending a lot of time getting ready for another regional trip for Shenandoah, and I had just spoken with the area's wrestling athlete of the year.

And, while it rained here Thursday, there was a completely different storm on the horizon last year. There had been warnings given by experts and even a few rumblings out in the open portending a destructive force that could not be seen but would be felt in devastating ways.

The IHSAA had already said there would be no fans at regional sites. I remember stopping by the Shenandoah office to speak with Silas Allred, and fans were returning their tickets.

We all know what happened next. The world's health agencies labeled COVID-19 as a pandemic, President Trump issued a travel ban to and from Europe — except for England — and after a player tested positive, the NBA suspended its season with a month to go.

The sports dominoes kept falling.

On March 13 — a Friday because, of course it was — the IHSAA hit pause on the boys basketball tournament on the eve of the regional round before ultimately cancelling it and the spring sports season altogether just weeks later.

I hate to rehash all the heartbreak that came about as a result, but it feels important to remember all that has been lost in the past year because, quite frankly, we are not out of the woods yet.

We lost out on the NCAA tournament, the entirety of the spring sports seasons at the collegiate and high school levels and a full-length Major League Baseball season.

Locally, the Alexandria baseball team and Shenandoah's Erikka Hill were prevented from defending their state championships. Daleville and Lapel softball, Daleville baseball and Alex tennis were among those who could not repeat their 2019 sectional successes. Jordan Benefiel was denied a dominant senior season leading a talented Pendleton Heights softball team.

All the area seniors would not have a final season to remember on the field, proms were canceled and graduation ceremonies were made virtual.

In the year since, we have battled pandemic fatigue, gross misinformation and negligence on the part of politicians. Schools remained closed until very recently, leaving some students behind and almost all struggling with the mental health aspects of being isolated.

Sports returned in the fall with restrictions and few fans in attendance. Masks and elbow bumps became the norm along with social distancing, at least for those who took the facts of the pandemic seriously.

We pressed on in sports and in life. Despite nearly 30 million cases and over 530,000 deaths in the United States alone and the economic disaster that lay in the wake of this devastating illness, we have moved on.

Through the miracle of medical technology, several pharmaceutical companies have come forth with vaccines to protect us from this virus and, suddenly, the light at the end of the tunnel looks more like sunshine than an oncoming train.

Positivity rates and total cases are trending down. Better days lie ahead, but this progress hasn't come without a cost.

I'm hopeful as we all return to the baseball and softball diamonds, tennis courts and track meets this spring, we will remember what so many gave up in the past year.

Seasons, jobs, security, a school year and many lives have been lost in the past year. That's what will be on my mind when I attend my first high school baseball game in over 800 days sometime next month.

Contact Rob Hunt at rob.hunt@heraldbulletin.com or 765-640-4886.