SPORTS COLUMN

MCMURRY: 2020 — A year to forget, or one to remember?

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As we put a final stamp on 2020, many are glad to put it quickly in their rearview mirror.

It has been a difficult year for many. And no matter what your views are on COVID-19, we have all been impacted by the pandemic in some way. 

While some would argue that it would be best to forget 2020 altogether, I would argue that it’s a year I never want to forget. And I can promise you, no matter how hard you try and forget some of the events from this year, they are things that have forever changed our lives. Things like that, both good and bad, are always worth remembering.

In the same token, I feel very fortunate to have had a very good year, even when I know firsthand many friends and family that have struggled. 

I wanted to share some of the highlights of 2020, both within this job and personally — to hopefully shed some light on what will be a brighter and better year in 2021 for all those in Montgomery County.

January started the year off with a bang. Southmont won its first Sagamore Conference wrestling title in 13 years, followed by the Mounties winning their first sectional title in girls’ swimming in almost two decades. Crawfordsville also reclaimed the boys’ swimming sectional championship and many many county swimmers represented their schools at the IUPUI Natatorium in the state finals. 

In wrestling, North Montgomery’s Drew Webster made a return trip to Bankers Life Fieldhouse for the state finals.

The last high school sporting event I covered was the boys’ basketball sectional final at Greencastle between North Montgomery and Danville in early March. The Chargers overcame a 29-point regular season loss to lead the Warriors deep into the third quarter, before falling by 12. That game coupled with the last few weeks of the regular season restored hope in the North Montgomery boys’ basketball program. For one of the first times in a decade, the excitement compared to my childhood days when the Chargers were regularly competing for sectional titles. 

Just days later I covered Fountain Central’s Macee Williams and the IUPUI Women’s Basketball team win the Horizon League Championship and punch a ticket to the NCAA tournament. And that’s when it all changed.

There was no NCAA tournament. High school spring sports did not happen. It was nearly four months of silence from the sports world.

It was a dead halt, along with most of the rest of the world.

And then it came back. Slowly, but piece by piece. Restaurants reopened, live sports returned, and schools were once again filled. Things looked much different, and they still do — but normalcy returned and continues to bleed back into our lives daily. All the days without sports made me that much more grateful for them once they returned. 

If there is one thing that this year has done for me, is it has put things into perspective. It’s shown me that anything can be taken away in a matter of moments. We have to be thankful for every day and every opportunity we are given to do the things we love and spend time with those we cherish.

In 2020, students in Montgomery County have watched parents lose jobs, lost grandparents to COVID-19, missed out on special moments with friends, and developed anxiety disorders all because of the pandemic. And you have your opinions and I have mine, but they don’t matter.

They don’t matter because the youth in our community are stronger than we give them credit for — and likewise for young folk worldwide. They have all fought back, and they have all battled.

Spring sports are canceled? Fine, they all went to work on their own.

Have to wear a mask while they work out? No problem.

Can’t sit with their friends at lunch? Cool, what do we have to do?

Our kids have been resilient. They’ve done whatever is necessary to stay in school, compete in sports, and do all the added opportunities attending school gives them.

It’s certainly been fun to watch, and I know it’s made each and every one of them better students, better athletes, and overall more grateful people. 

I've done my best to keep up with the craziness and am grateful for all the support. I see the tweets, receive the emails and hear all the words of encouragement. And I promise you that none of them go unnoticed. 

Last spring would have been hall of fame baseball coach John Froedges’ last season guiding the Athenians on the diamond. My heart ached this spring for coach Froedge, and I was disappointed I was unable to witness and document his final season the way it was meant to be done. But coach, know this: Our trip together last January to Cincinnati and Great American Ballpark was by far one of the best days of 2020 for me. It was a day I’ll never forget, and I’m forever thankful for the time, although very brief, I had the opportunity to cover you as a coach.

In 2020, I married my beautiful wife, Chase, and to end the year I get to do what I love and that is covering Montgomery County sports — and for that I am grateful.

Here’s to 2021 — whatever it brings — we will be ready.

Jared McMurry was born and raised in Montgomery County and is the Sports Editor of the Journal Review. He can be reached by email at jmcmurry@jrpress.com and by phone at 765-918-8656. Follow him on Twitter @jaredmac26

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