No equipment handout. No 7 a.m. practices. No Friday Night Lights in the fall.
Wait, what? Did I just write that?
Monday was supposed to be the official start of the fall sports season in Wisconsin as 257 high schools across the state would have been handing out equipment in preparation for the 2020 season.
Instead, COVID-19 has put a halt to that. Football, along with boys and girls cross country, girls golf, boys soccer, girls swimming, girls tennis and volleyball will have to wait for spring — hopefully — to have a shot at their seasons.
The Big Eight Conference became the first to declare it would not hold any conference events or determine champions. Yes, that means Sun Prairie will not be playing high school sports this fall, electing to try and play them in the spring. And that started a trend as the Badger and Rock Valley Conferences followed suit late last week.
Nothing, I mean nothing like this has ever happened, to me or any one of you. I can only imagine how devastating it was last spring when student-athletes were told that their seasons in baseball, softball, track and the like would not be canceled. As a former athlete myself, I would have been brought to my knees as sports were a huge part of my life.
They continue to be today, obviously. Later this month I will be celebrating my 30th year in the sports journalism field, the first four years of them being an assistant before being promoted to a sports editor in 1994. Twenty-seven of those years were spent in Fort Atkinson at the Daily Jefferson County Union where I saw my share of terrific games and athletes, but nothing stood out more than those Friday’s under the lights.
The last three years I have had the ultimate privilege of being the beat writer for the Sun Prairie Cardinals football team, and I would have to say they have been some of the most enjoyable Friday’s I have spent in my three-decade career. Head coach Brian Kaminski and staff have built one of the premiere programs in the state, and I have had a front-row seat. To not be able to have that week-to-week interaction with BK and the young men that pour their hearts out for the game they love is going to leave a tremendous void.
Amplifying that loss of fall Friday night’s is the fact that the Cardinals were about to unveil their new digs, Bank of Sun Prairie Stadium at Ashley Field. Right now the stadium is about 90% complete (I suggest you take a drive by and see it) equipped with two huge press boxes, a Daktronics scoreboard with a videoboard, over 4,000 seats and field turf featuring both the Cardinals logo and the logo of the future Sun Prairie West Wolves.
I will continue to “get by” this fall, writing about whatever I can that involves Sun Prairie athletics and student-athletes. Again, I feel your pain and wish you the best as things begin to get better … and they WILL get better.
Till now, I’m looking forward to Friday Night Lights ... in the spring.