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The real champions…

As football season is in a downhill roll toward the end of the 2020 season for prep football, in three weeks there will be champions crowned in six classes in Division 1 high school play.

And while those who walk off the field with the gold football will be called champions, I believe there are many more champions that won’t be presented a gold ball or even recognized for making the 2020 football season a reality in really trying times.

So for this week’s Sports Chatter, I wanted to take a moment to recognize some of these champions who have been a cornerstone in making sure that the season had even a glimmer of hope playing out.

School Administrations
This has been beyond imagination one of the toughest and most challenging years that school administrations have had to deal with from the Director of Schools all the way down to the principals and teachers in making sure to do everything possible to keep all students safe.

Some school administrators elected to just put football on the shelf like Shelby County schools but thankfully both Director of Schools in Carter County – Richard Van Huss and Tracy McAbee entrusted their coaches to do the right thing in allowing for the football season to proceed.

Also, each player should be appreciative of their school’s respective principal for supporting a football season moving forward.

Athletic Directors and their assistances
There probably isn’t a more deserving person(s) to be recognized as a champion than each school’s athletic director and their assistants who basically have been cursed out, called every name in the book, and had to endure making some difficult calls to help their team have an opportunity to play.

It is easy to stand back and complain about not being able to walk behind a team as a newswriter but to have to tell long-time season ticket holders that they can’t have their tickets for a season that a possible second state championship looms or just to be able to join the rest of the community on Friday nights to cheer on your favorite local team.

That is what the athletic directors had to do this season and also to ensure that the players on the field along with the cheerleaders and the band’s family members would have an opportunity to possibly see their child’s last season at their school participate.

They had to mark off the field, face harassment at the gates when people had to have temperatures checked, and be asked to wear mask all while trying to be ambassadors for their school.

But more importantly, they will be the ones who have to inform teams next season that they may not get those new uniforms or equipment they want because they have absorbed dramatic losses at the gates this season due to limited capacity.

This is part of the job that is the most difficult when your heart bleeds for your student-athletes.

The Community
Some of this goes back to what was earlier mentioned as many in each community have been accustomed to showing up once football season and cheering on their teams but this season they have had to miss out on a football season – some for the time in many, many years.

Yet the community support has remained positive and they have found ways to follow their respective teams whether via Facebook, local radio stations, sports shows like Tom Taylor, and by subscribing to services that stream the games live.

I have even known of some who have just driven into the parking lot and turned on the game on the car radio or via their cell phones to at least be close to the action.

These people are champions.

Players and Coaches
All players and coaches are champions this season whether they make it to the final game of the year in Cookeville or if they had to end their season early due to COVID.

These kids and coaches have been on the field when all odds were against them even completing the season. They came in and had temperature checks, kept daily records, worked out in social distancing when that is virtually hard to do in the game of football, and have done all that has been asked to stay safe and away from COVID.

Some have missed games due to contact tracing – for seniors two games they can’t get back.

The coaches have worked hard to teach and instill in the players the plays that want to run during the season during times where all players couldn’t be present and with new kids to the system.

They have encouraged their team to stay safe, do the right things, be honest about if they have been around someone sick, and have been their biggest cheerleaders to get them through the season.

So yes, whether a player or coach gets to touch a gold ball or not, they all are CHAMPIONS because they have preserved through some of the most trying times in the history of America and they have managed to get a season in when many thought from the onset that it wouldn’t even happen!

Congratulations to everyone for being champions in the 2020 prep football season!!