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Column

Excited for return of sports

Sports are coming back, and I couldn’t be more ready and excited.

On the high school level, summer sports in Iowa were approved to start practicing on June 1. Games can start as early as June 15.

There is still a lot to work out. But all five Jasper County schools have told the Newton News they plan to play this summer.

That first game the players play in, the fans watch and the media covers will mean a little more than normal. We have seen what things look like without sports. Without that place to go where you can escape real life for a few hours.

We all react differently when things get taken away from us. I just hope folks now realize what things were like without something we love and will be nicer to everyone involved.

That ball the umpire called you thought was a strike shouldn’t be as big of a deal this time around, right? That close play at second where the runner was called out but could have been safe is simply not that big of a deal.

It’s better than not having sports at all.

I’m happy for all the athletes I get to cover in Jasper County. But I’m really happy for the seniors who have lost so much in their final year of high school.

Most of them missed out on the traditional prom and graduation and they all missed out on that final few months of school with their best friends and any spring athletic season they were going to compete in.

On short notice, I tried to reach out to a few area seniors who I cover on a regular basis. And will only get one more chance to cover them this summer.

PCM senior pitcher Derek Brown is set to play at Iowa Western Community College next year. But he was really happy to have one final season as a Mustang.

“I was so excited I jumped up out of my bed and sped over to my pitching coaches house to celebrate,” said Brown, who has been throwing two bullpens per week and some light toss on other days.

The Mustangs lost a ton of seniors from last year’s team. They bring a handful of starters and Brown will be one of the players counted on to make a big impact this summer.

PCM senior Hailey Schutte could be the only senior on this year’s Mustang softball squad. She will play at Simpson this fall but gets one more chance on the diamond with her teammates.

“I was over the moon excited and so so grateful for one last opportunity to be on the field as a Mustang,” said Schutte when finding out summer sports were a go. “I feel so blessed to get to be able to experience what senior leadership feels like.”

Baxter senior Carter Nelsen earned all-state honors as a Class 1A pitcher last year. He will again be the ace pitcher for a Bolts’ squad who won their first playoff game in program history last summer before heading to Central College in August.

“I was really excited that I’m going to get to play my senior season,” Nelsen said. “There is always a chance that our school or our conference could have said no. I’m glad they decided to let us play.”

When I reached out to area athletic directors on Wednesday after the decision was announced, many of them were on board to play right away but still had lots of logistics to work through.

This won’t be easy. A lot is being thrown at the coaches to make this work. They will need help from the parents and the players to allow this to go off without a hitch.

There will be issues. No one is perfect. But it will take a total team effort on and off the field this time around. And cooperation from those who are being asked to alter their baseball and softball habits.

Baxter Athletic Director Lori Fricke has begun inserting games into the schedules online. Things are getting done behind the scenes, but there will likely be a few more meetings after the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union and Iowa High School Athletic Association sends out their recommendations for playing summer sports on Tuesday.

I do know the South Iowa Cedar League featuring Lynnville-Sully and Colfax-Mingo are planning to play a single-game round robin conference schedule this summer. Other conferences are likely figuring out what they’ll do as well.

We all will know more in the coming days. And then it’s up to us to make sure the plans get executed.

I’m happy I get to go back to doing what I love. And I plan to do my part in making sure we don’t screw this up.

Contact Troy Hyde at
thyde@shawmedia.com

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