After enduring one of the roughest stretches of our lifetimes you have to look long and hard for things to be thankful for today.
A quarter of a million deaths from the coronavirus, hundreds of thousands of other Americans who have fallen ill. Jobs lost. Careers interrupted. Economic hardships. Families unable to gather on important occasions; some displaced from their 电子货币交易平台apphomes. All of it wrapped around the most divisive election process in history.
If you're a high school football player or coach it's not so hard to find a reason to celebrate Thanksgiving: You played a game this season. Most of you played a lot of games.
Some, like Wyomissing, have one left.
In any other year simply getting on the field was no feat.
In 2020 every game has been cause for celebration because of the very real possibility that there could have been none.
In June the chances for a football season looked grim.
In July the chances appeared slim.
Then came the Aug. 6 nuclear blast by Gov. Tom Wolf, who casually mentioned that no one in Pennsylvania should play high school sports until 2021.
It was a devastating, ill-conceived message and – fortunately – it went mostly ignored. The PIAA moved forward and so, eventually, did most of its member schools.
Difficult as it was not knowing from one day to the next what would happen we had a season; for Berks football it was a great one.
It culminates Friday afternoon in Hershey when Wyomissing takes the big stage at 3:30 against Central Valley in a battle of unbeatens that might be the best of the six weekend championships.
“We're all just happy that we're still playing,” said Spartans coach Bob Wolfrum, “because of the virus and all of the rules that came down and not knowing from one day to the other whether they were going to let us play, then worrying during the season if anybody came down with it on our team, or (on) our opponents. It's been nervewracking.
“I have so much respect for how the kids handled it. They just did what they were supposed to do. We told them they needed to be careful. We feel a little bit lucky and a little bit proud of the kids and how they went about their business because they wanted to be able to play.”
So, if you played even one game this fall, be thankful. Thank your parents and family for making even more sacrifices than usual. Thank your coaches for the determination and patience they showed. Thank your athletic director and school administrators for having the faith to make it work.
Thank your teammates for their vigilance. And thank your opponents for doing their part, too.
Every Berks football team, save for Reading High, played at least six games. Berks Catholic, Exeter and Gov. Mifflin played eight. Wyomissing is out this morning prepping for its 10th.
Things didn't go smoothly; we knew they wouldn't.
It took Twin Valley and Fleetwood three tries to get together; finally they did for a Nov. 13 finale.
Berks Catholic had almost as many games canceled or rescheduled as it played; at least three of its games were finalized just days before kickoff.
Ask Exeter athletic director Tom Legath what he went through to find a game after Hollidaysburg pulled out hours before its Oct. 23 game. After a maddening string of phone calls, texts and emails the Eagles were on the field the next night at Kennett.
The fall was filled with incidents like that. It made for great angst. Hours after securing the top seed in the District 3 Class 6A tournament Harrisburg had to withdraw because of positive cases within its program. Warwick had to pull out of its Class 5A championship against Mifflin. Upper Dublin had to withdraw from its state semifinal vs. Cathedral Prep.
Painful as those episodes were, they were kept to a minimum. Of 101 District 3 tournament games (across all team sports) 95 went as scheduled.
“The quote that sticks out in my mind is: 'If you don't try, you will never know,' ” said Central Valley coach Mark Lyons, paraphrasing PIAA executive director Dr. Robert Lombardi's August message.
“You have to find a balance (in life),” Lyons said. “The pandemic is a tragedy. I get it. But you've also got to teach some adversity in how to adjust your life and how to overcome things. To me this is just another lesson we've learned.”