When Brownstown Central golfer Ashlyn Fox realized her team was really going to play in a tournament that counted on the high school schedule Wednesday, she got emotional.
“I about cried,” Fox said.
In opening its fall sports season, the girls golf team was the first outfit representing the Braves to compete this season. The occasion of the Seymour Invite at Shadowood Golf Course also marked the first high school sporting event contested in this community since last March.
Six other area teams and five individuals joined the Owls on a day that sparkled so brightly it was a wonder everyone didn’t take off to the beach.
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Instead of recent sticky, humid days with temperatures in the 90s, or a day pockmarked by thunderstorms, when the golfers arrived for warmups the temperature was in the 50s.
“I needed a jacket,” Fox said.
The weather was perfect, if the scenario was not. The event was being played under cautious social distancing rules where face masks were commonly worn and elbow bumps replaced handshakes in the name of safety.
There have been so many cancellations of so many fun things for so long, it was no surprise Fox was edgy until she got the green light on the first hole. about stepping to the tee on the first hole.
The COVID-19 pandemic, the unprecedented virus sweeping the world, has wrecked so much of daily life that it is a great victory when a scheduled event goes off unimpeded, or simply as scheduled.
Heck, this made the Seymour golf team two-for-two. Monday, participating in an eight-team tournament in Bloomington, the Owls were among the first teams to compete in any Indiana fall sport.
Seymour’s Jim Hoffman said the coaches’ meeting involved social distancing, perhaps with speakers just talking a little bit louder than usual. Coaches or players, the atmosphere for this tournament was upbeat because such a cloud of doom has descended on much of sport. When officials get to say “Play ball!” regardless of the endeavor, the reaction is part-way between quiet satisfaction and Yippee.
“Yes, I was worried,” said Seymour sophomore Lainey Jackson.
Jackson was concerned when high school sports were cancelled in the spring, but she practiced golf hard all summer to prepare for this opportunity. Just being able to play in off-season tournaments gave her hope the school season would play out.
It also paid off for her Wednesday. She shot a 46 on the front nine on a day when the grass was only a teeny bit wet, there was no wind and the temperatures were mild.
Overall, Jackson shot a 97, pleased to break 100, but encouraged for coming matches.
“There’s a lot of room for improvement,” she said.
That was pretty much Hoffman’s analysis about his whole team, especially given its youth. He said he believes in the philosophy of improving five strokes a year during high school and thinks each of the four ladies who stroked for the Owls has mid-80s potential.
As long as they keep on playing. No one wanted to hear a discouraging word about how things can still go sideways because of the virus.
After all, the Seymour volleyball team was just going into quarantine due to positive COVID-19 testing, the Miami Marlins of Major League Baseball had a forced week off from play because of an internal spread of the virus, and sports leagues at all levels keep imposing tighter restrictions on when and how their games can be played.
Skidmore could not be blamed for saying she was nervous about whether her team’s home match would come off Wednesday almost right up until tee time.
That is how the world is living. So many people wish to remain optimistic about what is next, and then get let down when a new door is slammed shut.
Worry-free diversions of a few hours like this can be helpful to the mindset. Skidmore just played and her score of 96 was uplifting.
On a perfect weather day for a sport that has just enough outdoors built in for comfortable social distancing, she was also able to say, “I was having a good time.”
In the era of the coronavirus, such sentences have been uttered all too rarely in recent months.