As this year's Spring Fling comes to a close, one thing is clear: We all missed this.
The players and coaches missed dusty fields. They missed smearing eyeblack across their cheeks. They missed playing multiple games in the heat until they were bone-weary tired. They missed laughing and crying with teammates and competing against rivals.
We all missed the drama and energy that high school athletes routinely produce on the field. And some even missed the ear-splitting rhythmic chants constantly bellowing from softball dugouts.
The contrasting picture of what was lost when the spring sports season was canceled last year compared to this week was best described by a pair of our area's senior softball players.
Asked how she responded when the official word came last year that spring sports had been canceled, Sequatchie County pitcher Cali Green said: "I laid in bed for a whole day and didn't know what to do. I started playing when I was 4 or 5 years old, so to not get to play was pretty sad. It was pretty depressing."
Conversely, despite a bandage over her right eyebrow and being caked in ballfield dirt and grime, Baylor's Acelynn Sellers couldn't stop smiling after helping her team win another state championship. It was Baylor's sixth straight and fourth in Sellers' five years with the team — with the Lady Raiders failing to win one only during last year's non-season.
"This is such a great feeling," said Sellers, who will continue her career at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. "After everything we missed out on last year, just to be able to be back on the field with my teammates meant so much and to get to come back over here and compete and win like this makes this so much more special."
Total number of titles dips
Our area wound up having six teams win state titles this week, a smaller total than we've become accustomed to. McCallie won its first track and field championship since 1929 and also earned its 10th tennis title. The Baylor softball team cruised to yet another championship — outscoring three opponents by a combined 27-1 margin — and the Red Raiders baseball team won its third straight crown in similarly dominating fashion. The Arts & Sciences girls' tennis team and Signal Mountain girls' track team also won state titles, and there were several individual championships earned by area athletes.
Chargers find their coach
Just 10 days after Derrick Davis said he was stepping down as football coach, McMinn Central announced it was hiring Bradley Central offensive coordinator Matt Moody to take over the program.
Davis stepped down after two seasons with the Chargers to accept an offer to join the Rhea County staff as a defensive assistant. McMinn Central had gone 1-19 in the two years before Davis took over, and the Chargers have finished with a winning record just once (2014) in the past 11 seasons. Under Davis, the Chargers finished 3-7 in both seasons.
Moody, a 2005 graduate of McMinn County, has worked on the Bradley Central staff for eight years, including as offensive coordinator the past three seasons. The Bears scored 35-plus points in seven of 12 games last season.