In year like no other, some traditions hold true

Spring-Ford+midfielder+Tommy+Bodenschatz+%28left%29+competes+in+a+game+earlier+this+year.+

Photo courtesy of lifetouch

Spring-Ford midfielder Tommy Bodenschatz (left) competes in a game earlier this year.

Matt Dunne, Sports Editor

Being Sports Editor of the Rampage the past two years has been such a great privilege. It has been awesome to do it with two of my good friends, Connor Lynch and John Zawislak. I am really going to miss it, and I am really proud that we previewed and recapped every single sport in our two years doing this. This is my final article for the paper that I know we are leaving in great hands.

Writing my last article for the Spring-Ford’s student newspaper, I truly did not know what to write. Thinking of the extraordinary circumstances of this year, however, I thought it would be a good idea to address somethings that passed us by in these “interesting” sports seasons.

And before starting, thank you Mr. McDaniel, Mr. Miscavage, Mrs. Weiss, and Mr. Reigner for all your hard work making this sports season a reality. The chance to compete this year is appreciated by all Spring-Ford athletes.

Sports are one of the greatest embodiments of “what if” in human history.

“If” we would have won that game, we would have won this.

“If” he did not get hurt, he would have gone to the pros.

“If” that shot would have went in … We all know the clichés.

Many will forever wonder and question what could have happened in their high school sports season “if” not for the pandemic that transformed our lives.

The 2020 spring season’s athletes perhaps hold the greatest wonder. Losing an entire season due to the statewide school shutdown, they will never know what they could have achieved. There was never a chance for competition, so I would be remiss not to mention that. Training your whole lives for a senior year only to have it canceled is terrible. It truly is something I think many probably still struggle to come to terms with.

To shift focus to 2021, there is much that left student-athletes to wonder.

In the fall season, students were faced with unprecedented uncertainty as surrounding states seemed inclined to try and move everything to the spring. For the first time, senior athletes were following PIAA and school board meetings to try and gain a better understanding of chances their respective seasons would happen. Then, when they learned their respective seasons would happen, they were restricted to league schedules with very minimal teams due to statewide restrictions.

Locally, our boys’ and girls’ soccer teams were dealt especially tough hands. Because the PIAA decided to push back the start of the fall season, postseason tournaments were greatly shortened and Pioneer Athletic Conference playoffs did not even occur.

In the PAC, Spring-Ford and Owen J Roberts girls’ soccer teams shared the league crown. The boys’ soccer team held the lead in the PAC before a late defeat to Pottsgrove cost them the top spot. In a typical season, small regular-season mishaps would not mean much. The top teams would each play in a PAC playoff semifinal, and they’d meet a team for a winner-take-all PAC final. That was not in the cards this year, though. Boyertown boys soccer earned the PAC championship by having the most points. Ironically enough, Spring-Ford would face Boyertown in the first round of the District playoffs, winning 1-0.

For girls’ soccer, they split their two matchups with Owen J. Roberts this season. Hope Flanegin, Molly Thomas, and a strong senior class were set up for a decisive third matchup with a sole PAC championship on the line. However, that opportunity was never granted due to the change in formats.

The Rams made the most of their shared title, and they were able to earn themselves a spot in the District championship game, where their season came to a very abrupt end to Pennridge. A district championship loss, in a typical season, would set up a favorable seed in the state tournament. That was not the case this year, though, as only one team from District One could qualify for the prestigious state tournament due to rule changes this fall.
On the boys’ soccer side, the Rams defeated the No. 8 and No. 1 seeds to reach the District semifinals, playing two overtimes and falling in the waning moments to Pennridge. In a typical year, their heroics would have resulted in a state tournament trip but did not this year due to rule changes.

The football team enjoyed a tremendous year in a shortened season. Falling by only a field goal to Souderton in the district semifinals, the Rams provided fans a great experience. Unfortunately, for the majority of the football season, students were forced to watch from the comfort of their living room due to state mandates. When Spring-Ford defeated Perkiomen Valley in the season-opener, they did so in front of just a few hundred parents. Credit to those parents for their noise, but thousands of students all wearing one color for their respective schools was missed.

In the winter basketball season, Lucy Olsen became the All-Time leading scorer for both boys’ and girls’ teams, but there is certainly a case to be made that she could have been a 2000-point scorer in a typical year. Mind you, the girls’ basketball team did not lose a game this season, leading up to the state final. So, certainly, one has to imagine what a crowd could have been like for them this season if not for state crowd limitations.

Continuing, Spring-Ford’s boys’ lacrosse team surely has a gripe with how their season ended. The team, which came into the season winning nine consecutive Pioneer Athletic Conference championships, lost their opening game of the season to Perkiomen Valley. Unfortunately neither team would lose another game in PAC play, and the Rams were unable to do anything about keeping their implausible PAC-championship streak going without a rematch in a league playoff game.

For sports teams in all seasons, they were robbed of team bonding activities, locker room settings, and typical travel as a team. They were resorted to their sport and nothing else. Certainly a challenge, all of the athletes should be commended for their participation in a strange season like this one.

To be clear, this is not a criticism of anyone who made decisions on all levels this school year. Athletic administrations, school directors, and the PIAA all had incredibly tough decisions to make. People can argue till the end of time about what should have been the actions taken, but what good does that do?

COVID is the one villain in this story, and no one else should be looked to for blame.

The point of this article certainly is not one to look for pity. It is just to acknowledge any accomplishments this year are ones that should be valued that much more because of the circumstances.

That said, Spring-Ford achieved arguably one of its greatest years of athletics in spite of the COVID restrictions imposed by state officials.

Those accomplishments include a state title by our girls’ tennis team, Joey Milano’s individual state wrestling championship, wrestling’s District One Duals championship, girls’ basketball’s District One championship, softball’s District One championship, and baseball’s run to the state semifinals.

All of these events should be celebrated enormously, as they were. One of the most awesome things is that it seems like a lot of these teams may have even brighter futures. And, I will miss writing about it, but I know this paper will be right along the ride with them.