PI Editorial: Way to go Bears! Students, athletes deserve all the congratulatory cliches we can think of after this year
Grit, determination, courage, perseverance, resilience … all those high school sports cliches coaches preach couldn’t be more apt in describing this past year.
So, to start, here’s a huge congratulations to the Rifle High School Bears, state football champions for Class 3A in this oddest of spring football seasons, by virtue of a thrilling 35-34 win over The Classical Academy in Pueblo on Saturday.
We needed a feel-good local sports story after this craziest of years. And, boy, did the Bears deliver.
Sure, there will be an asterisk in the record books on that state title, after the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) opted to split football into separate fall and spring seasons, depending on when individual schools felt comfortable proceeding.
But, rest-assured, there won’t be any asterisks on that state championship banner that will be hung in the RHS gym.
It’s definitely been one for the record books, annotated with one big asterisk, as athletic directors, coaches, team managers and the student-athletes themselves navigated the difficulties of playing sports in the middle of a pandemic.
In addition to the primary objective of having to figure out how to do academics given the COVID-19 restrictions that were put in place, a lot of extra weight was put on schools to determine how to conduct sports in a way that protected public health.
Much of that responsibility has fallen on the shoulders of the athletes themselves.
So, here’s a huge shoutout to say, “job well done!”
Along with the Rifle football team, we also want to circle back and say congratulations to the student members and coaches of Coal Ridge High School co-ed spirit team, who captured a third straight state title in their division in March.
And, while we’re at it, congratulations to all the teams and athletes who just hung in there and played, against all odds at times, and especially those who were able to extend their seasons into the post-season playoffs and championship meets.
To make it to a state championship in any year is a huge accomplishment, and even more so given the challenges that this school year presented.
That said, we do take our area school districts and high schools to task a little bit for not taking the bull by the horns and adapting the restrictions to local conditions, instead of letting CHSAA and state public health officials completely run the show.
Some of the restrictions that were put in place seemed excessive, like not allowing basic sportsmanship to be shown at the end of games when teams normally line up to congratulate each other.
It was wonderful to see this finally happening again when Rifle and Glenwood Springs squared off on the football field in the state semifinal game last week, and again between Rifle and TCA in Pueblo.
Kudos to those who came up with their own way of showing that all-important sportsmanship, like the Roaring Fork High volleyball team, which would gather on the end line after matches to give a big bow to their fellow competitors.
Some of the rules didn’t make sense at all, like requiring masks to be worn by basketball and volleyball players, but not wrestlers and football players.
The big positive through it all was the fact that high school students were able to have a sports season at all.
We appreciate how seriously the coaches took the CDC guidelines in order to allow the students to participate.
What was hard for parents, though, was navigating the different restrictions when it came to watching their kids play. In some cases early on that meant not being able to watch at all.
Different schools had different rules, and it was often unclear when the confusing CHSAA and Colorado Public Health and Environment policies took precedence.
Now, with the COVID-19 vaccine having the desired result of building herd immunity, things are relaxing and this season is shaping up to be one for the history books, no matter how you write it.
The Post Independent editorial board members are Publisher Bryce Jacobson, Editor Peter Baumann, Managing Editor/Senior Reporter John Stroud, and community representatives Amy Connerton and Karl Oelke.
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