Saturday was the first day of summer. It was only fitting because as students flock to the beach following graduation or merely the end of the school year, I too am taking a summer break.
Granted, I’ll still be at work every day covering Owls, Little Leaguers and everything in-betweeners, but the high school sports grind is over. For over nine months I’ve rushed from one end of the county to the other. I’ve set up shop in press boxes with no Internet hoping to beat deadline on Friday nights. I’ve mingled in the stands with my notepad during volleyball games. I’ve followed a basketball team to Greensboro and survived an early March “snow-pocalypse.” I’ve toted by lawn chair to softball games and listened to countless walk-out songs (some better than others) at baseball games.
I’ve watched teams rejoice after big wins and I’ve watched others crumble as their season’s ended. I’ve seen tears of sadness as high school careers come to close and I’ve witnessed tears of jubilation as ultimate goals were reached.
I’ve seen players excel, set records and win awards and I’ve seen others attempt a sport for the first time, just for fun.
I’ve seen parents mourn the end of a child’s playing days and others celebrate their child’s opportunity to play on the next level.
I may not see it all or cover it all, but I’ve certainly been around for a lot. And in these past several months, I’ve made some great memories.
The Chase soccer program started it all in the fall with a spectacular season. The program,which started on seven years ago, won its first conference title and took down rival Shelby twice in the regular season.
I watched the Trojans’ second win over Shelby on the road in the season finale to clinch the conference and I watched them lose to that same team in the playoffs to end the season.
The difference in emotions after each game were vast, but not as vast as I expected. In the conference-clinching win, the team and its fans we’re elated, and understandably so. In the season-ender at home in the playoffs, the crowd was somber, there were tears on the faces of the players but there was also a new sense of pride. A sense of pride that the program was built. A sense of pride that the team would be on the same stage again for years to come.
In the winter, the East Rutherford boy’s basketball team sticks out in my mind. Yes, the girl’s team had a run of over 20 wins in a row en route to the Western Regional Final, but it was the trip with the boys that set them apart.
One moment the game was set to take place, the next moment a sudden hail storm pushed things back to the next day. Then that hail storm turned into a winter storm
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that wiped out power across Greensboro for two days. A one-night trip was suddenly a three-day ordeal with no lights, no heat and no idea when the team would play basketball.
Eventually the regional final game was played and the Cavaliers fell in arguably the toughest loss I’ve ever seen in a basketball game. The season was over but the memories are far from lost. Right now I have an 8x11, signed team photo framed on my desk that was given to me by the team, and I can assure you that this photo will follow me just as closely as those memories will.
Then the East Rutherford softball team stole the spring headlines with a state championship run that ended the season for both the girls and myself with a win.
With a first-year coach that preached team and togetherness, seasoned veteran leadership and a sophomore pitcher that set the county and the state on fire almost as much as her red hair, the team gave the entire community something to be proud of.
It was certainly a year filled with headline after headline, and I’m convinced the 2014-15 year will bring even more. But make no mistake, I’m as happy as any student or teacher to have a summer break.