Head in the game: how athletes had to buckle down to make up for lost time.

After a year of seclusion and separation, sports are starting to re-emerge, trying to make up for lost time.

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Gracie Balkema, Reporter

You breathe in the cool evening air, as you tie up your cleats, you look around. You’re back on the field, and back on your A-game. Let the games begin.

     Brian Mehl has been head football coach since 2014, coaching since 2009. Over his years of coaching, Mehl said he has faced many challenges, but navigating the COVID-19 guidelines has been the largest struggle in his coaching career. The first game was no exception. 

     “I’ve been around football for a really long time, and it was the most bizarre, weird, strange, game I’ve ever been a part of,” Mehl said. “It felt good to get back in a competitive environment.”

     Many people look forward to sports every year, and even in the times of COVID-19, the athletic program is trying hard to make this season possible. For freshman quarterback Lukas Hews, it meant a lot.

     “Personally, despite the result the first game was great.” Hews said. “Felt amazing to be back on the field in what seemed like forever. It’s nice to get a sense of normalcy, despite this time being not so normal.

   Recently, people have been allowed in the stadium if they have a spectator pass. Each athlete received two passes so that family or friends can watch the game. With the spectator limit rising, more and more people have been allowed in each game, including cheerleaders and photographers. 

     The girls soccer team was also one of the first teams to have its sports season, and coach Erik Ihde says they are working harder than ever to make this season worthwhile.

     “I think there is a huge appreciation for just being out there and playing because at one point we thought it wouldn’t happen,” Ihde said. “With any sport, there is a certain amount of love and passion for the game, and for the team, and I think that’s at the core [of their perseverance].”

     This year, teams had to get creative, with flexibility being the key to playing. Junior soccer player Hailey McCree expressed her gratitude about being able to continue her athletic career.

     “It really made me realize how much I missed sports,” McCree said. “Even though we tied our first game, I was just really happy to be back out on the field.”