I think for the past 20 months, most of us have been waiting for “normal” or anything close to it.
And in the world of high school sports, it starting to feel a little bit closer to normal.
There are state championships again — last weekend for slowpitch softball and this weekend for cross country. And now that the calendar has turned to November, we are getting into full swing of the postseason drive toward state championships in football, volleyball, girls soccer and girls swimming.
For us in The Columbian sports department, Tuesday was big day in our march back to normal.
When the pandemic hit, we spent most of the next year grinding to find stories to cover as local sports basically left the scene.
During that time, members of our sports staff were outsourced, either part time or full time, to other jobs in the newsroom.
When high school sports came back in February, we started getting some of our staff back.
It wasn’t until last month that we got Meg Wochnick back fully in sports after she spent nearly a year doing a stellar job as the interim education beat reporter.
But just as Meg was back in the fold, Joshua Hart made the decision to leave The Columbian to pursue other career goals, which was a big loss for us.
Now, I’d like to welcome Will Denner to The Columbian sports staff. Will’s first day on the job was Tuesday.
Will is a University of Oregon graduate, which I will do my best not to hold against him.
He comes to us after a brief stint at the Mail Tribune in Medford, Ore. Before that, he worked for three years at Enterprise-Record in Chico, Calif.
Will brings some new energy, new ideas to the staff, and we’re looking forward to offering more innovations in our preps coverage.
And it also means, for the first time since March 2020, The Columbian sports staff is back to being fully staffed.
And that’s great news as the schedule heats up with a lot of playoff action.
It’s been frustrating that we only covered one regular-season volleyball match and only two regular-season soccer matches this fall.
But with Will on board, it opens up our flexibility.
This Saturday, we plan to have four staffers out in the field to cover prep events. And that will be a more common occurrence as area prep teams make their postseason push this month, and as winter sports teams start gearing up for the 2021-22 high school season.
And that will feel more like normal.