Just like that, it seems, the school year is over. Summer is shaping up to be a little more ‘normal’ and hopefully things progress to the point that all our schools can have a traditional, in-person first day of school in August.
Once we got some sports back, it got very busy and the time just flew by. Some weeks, it was literally covering three or four sporting events each afternoon/evening because they had most of the sports going this spring, with just a few played during the winter.
We saw kids back on school campuses, albeit with masks and very often ‘one way’ arrows to keep kids flowing in one direction in the hallways. Just getting to see the students was a huge morale boost; it gave me a sense that things might get back to where they were, sooner rather than later.
And in a topsy-turvy kind of way, having Escalon play its sports schedule as part of the Valley Oak League was fun as well, matching up against Oakdale this year as opposed to the traditional Trans-Valley League competition. Riverbank, also a TVL team like Escalon, moved more into the Southern Athletic League area for their games, so the Cougars and Bruins did not cross paths too many times this season.
From my perspective, behind the lens, covering the sports this year was extra fun. Not only had it been a long time since I had been able to do that but it also was a season when I saw kids truly appreciating the game. There were no league championships, no playoffs, no section or state competitions – normally that would be a hindrance but this year, I think it helped the coaches and kids focus more on the moment. Suit up, show up and just enjoy the chance to play.
I saw more camaraderie this season than ever; a whole dugout full of varsity Cougars welcoming baseball teammate Cam Maruyama back like a hero after he got a hit, returning from surgery and getting in to a game as a pinch hitter. He was lifted for a pinch runner and his teammates offered high fives and handshakes, as happy for him as if he had won the game with a walk-off homer.
Volleyball players celebrating each and every point made like it was the most important of the game; basketball players on the bench shouting encouragement to their teammates on the court; the constant chatter of the baseball and softball dugouts, regardless of the score – it all added up to a ‘Season Two’ spring season that was at once exhausting and exhilarating.
Admittedly, it will be fun to have a little free time on Sundays now; those were set aside as my ‘call coaches’ day and I tried to get some sports writing done, too, so Mondays were not so hectic. Who am I kidding, Mondays are always hectic regardless of how much work I do on the weekend but it’s always better to be busy than bored.
And I am actually pretty good at finding things to make sure ‘boredom’ is not in my vocabulary.
Plus I will have that long-awaited vacation to enjoy soon and recently added another item on the ‘to do’ list when I head back home. My brother Roy is the resident pro at the Bass Pro Shops in Utica, New York – the city where I spent my first two years of college – and I definitely want to make a trip out there with him to see ‘his store’ and hopefully attend one of his seminars. When he and my sister-in-law came out for my daughter’s wedding in October of 2019, he was able to work in a guest appearance/seminar at the Bass Pro Shops in Manteca. I didn’t get to see him in action then (I think there was a rehearsal dinner conflict or something) so I’d love to have that chance. Having the opportunity to do a little bass fishing wouldn’t be bad, either; for me, that would be a perfect summer vacation day.
Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.