My car breaks down: Lessons for winter sports
Don’t worry; It’s fixed now
So, I’m leaving my apartment on Tuesday for the monumental 1.5-mile commute to begin the Vail Daily’s coverage of Season B, aka winter sports, and my car breaks down.
The hinge that allows the back door of my RAV-4 to close is stuck and I can’t drive my car without my golf clubs falling out somewhere on Highway 6. Of course, the car is not safe to drive, but, we’re talking about my golf clubs, people.
After much fiddling with the latch, some very loud and colorful commentary and the ever-critical move of my golf clubs to the backseat where they would not fall out, I drove very, very slowly — hazards blinking — to a mechanic who is now my hero.
You, of course is asking, “Freud, what in the bleeping world does this have to do with sports except for your golf clubs which are classified as weapons of mass destruction by the United Nations?”
Well, dear reader, my glorious experience on Tuesday, is symbolic of the obstacles facing our basketball, wrestling, skiing and hockey teams will face during their respective seasons.
Based on the starts and stops of fall sports — softball, football and cross-country — stuff, a lose translation, will happen this winter. The athletes, teams and coaches who adjust to COVID-19 craziness the best will be the most successful.
We’ll get into the previews and story lines — like Battle Mountain hockey moving to 4A (thank you, Lord), the quest for state titles in wrestling, and how Eagle Valley basketball is returning a bunch of good talent — but theme of this winter will be COVID.
In the spirit of Bill Maher, here are some new rules.
• Practice hard and when you can. Monday was officially the first day of practice for our teams. Let’s be honest, everyone’s been having informal workouts, etc. We hope you’ve worked hard during the “break,” and you’ve got to capitalize on the practices you have during the season.
This season is short — late January to early March — with fewer games and practices. Those who use their practices well will succeed as teams in the win-loss column or as individuals to advance their roles with their squads.
That means you have to be ready to go whether practices are at 6 a.m. or 8 p.m. Get used to it.
• Good decisions off the court/mat/ice/snow: As always, keep up with the studies and good decisions. The latter is more important this year, and I’m not just talking choices that involve the traditional sins of alcohol, nicotine and cannabis.
Ladies and gents, go to school, go to practice and go home. Fair or not, student-athletes have to be careful about where they go and whom they meet. Even if you don’t get COVID-19, you still can be caught up in contact tracing and be ineligible to play.
Wear your mask, practice social distancing and be careful where you go in your free time. And, yes, it goes without saying, but we’re saying it anyway — no freaking parties. (I have visions of an entire athletic program getting wiped out by a few cases of beer or a keg.)
• No slow starts: With only 20 bouts in wrestling during the regular season and roughly 12 games for basketball and hockey and limited entries in skiing, teams and athletes can’t ease into this season. There is no December of nonconference games before league starts after Christmas Break.
Not only do teams have fewer games but there are fewer postseason spots available because of COVID. An 0-4 start is recoverable when the season starts in December, but not in 2021.That 0-4 start is one-third of the season now.
• Be ready to play anyone: Remember football season? Battle Mountain was meant to play Eagle Valley in Week 1, Summit in Week 5, and the Huskies played 5A Ralston Valley and 4A Liberty. Roll with it.
Battle Mountain hockey may be scheduled to play Steamboat Springs on Jan. 30 at Dobson in its opener.The Huskies could end up playing Aspen on Jan. 30 because the Sailors could have a positive test or tracing. You never know.
But really …
After all these warnings, yes, try to have fun. Sports has always been an escape for us, be it the spectators and athletes. You’ve worked darn hard to make this happen.
Is it the perfect season of basketball, hockey, wrestling or skiing? No. But it is what you have.
Make the most of it and make sure your car-door latches work.