When I decided I wanted to be a sports writer during my freshman year of high school, I couldn’t have imagined the circumstances my career would be starting under. With that being said, I wouldn’t trade the experience I’ve gained and competition I’ve seen over the past few months for anything.

Covering a sporting event during a pandemic is a unique experience to say the least, but it’s for sure better than not covering them at all.

When I had the opportunity to accept a position here at The Times Record, I was ecstatic to start a career that I am so passionate about, and wasn’t even thinking about how my job would be different due to the pandemic. I can remember the first game I covered like it was yesterday. It was opening day for the fall season in high school sports, and Morse was visiting Mt. Ararat for a game of 7-on-7 football, the revised game in place of tackle football that we saw this season due to the ongoing pandemic.  It was a warm and sunny late September afternoon in Topsham as I was feeling out the best way to get the best coverage while adhering to the guidelines in place. The defending 8-man state champion Eagles knocked off the Shipbuilders 40-12 and the fall season was underway. 

It was one of the first 7-on-7 football games played in the state. It was a day of many firsts, and it was just the beginning of what would be a very unprecedented fall season here in Maine.

As I fast-forward in my brain to now, I’ve covered countless events in all sorts of different sports. From that football game in Topsham, to a cross-country meet in Brunswick, and a golf match of two state champions in Freeport, there was one common occurrence between all of these different events. The passion for the sport that these athletes have remained the same throughout the shortened season. In fact, you could argue that these athletes were more passionate this season than they ever were before. Each and every athlete I spoke with throughout the season, socially distanced of course, would always mention how fortunate they felt to be out there with their teammates and coaches.

“It was amazing to be out here and to be able to do something. We just want to play and have a good season,” said Brunswick junior girls soccer player Molly Taub, after their first game of the season, a 3-0 win over Mt. Ararat on Sept. 29.

These athletes had seen their spring season come and go like the wind, and were left wondering all summer on how the fall season would unfold. To be able to play games against other schools was a gift on it’s own.

“To be out here competing with my guys after what we’ve gone through this year, it feels nice to be scoring goals and playing games,” said Owen Howarth, a junior boys soccer player for Freeport, after the Falcons drew Mt. Ararat on Oct. 20.

When I look back on this year from my perspective, it was a very weird time for me to kick off my career. Watching a game with no one within 50 feet of me at times was weird, but it was even weird to see a goal scored and have no roar of the crowd. I’ve gotten used to this in professional sports, but to witness it first hand at the local level was an eye opener in a way. There were no playoffs (except in golf and cross country), and thus, no heal point standings this season. Because this was the case, the way I handled my coverage was different and took an adjustment, but it all worked out in the end. 

It will remain like this as 2021 comes around and winter sports arrive, but again, the passion will not be lacking from the athletes.  So, when I look back on 2020 as we head into 2021, I think about the experience I’ve gained and how I will use it as the calendar flips.

Going from a college student, to a sports talk radio intern, to a full-time sports writer, I’ve had one heck of a year. 

But with all of that came that valuable experience that I keep mentioning, from covering events in a pandemic, to connecting with one of Maine’s all-time boys basketball players in former Brunswick star Ralph Mims, and to catching up with former South Portland and Bowdoin basketball star Maddie Hasson, who is playing overseas in Ireland. I’m happy with how things have turned out as my career rolls on. I thank you all for your support and for allowing me to tell you stories about sports in the area, and I can’t wait to provide even more storytelling in 2021.

Happy New Year, and stay safe. 

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