Last year at this time, I was writing about a strange spring without high school sports or youth activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was pretty weird. There were no indoor track and field meets at the impressive Northland Pines field house, no softball or baseball games at Don Burnside Park in Three Lakes and no soccer games at Oldenburg Sports Park on Highway G.

It resulted in abbreviated sports pages in this newspaper and many others across the state. And it stayed that way until the fall sports season kicked off with special player and spectator guidelines.

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) Board of Control did institute special summertime regulations for players and coaches to gather on a limited basis. That all happened about the same time that Gov. Tony Evers extended the state’s Safer At Home order until May 26, 2020, ordered all public and private K-12 schools to remain closed, and prohibited interscholastic athletics for the remainder of the 2019-’20 school year. 

That announcement was especially hard on senior athletes, who would not be able to finish their high school careers on the baseball or softball field, or maybe competing at the State Track and Field Championships. 

Most high school teams returned to the sports scene last fall. At Northland Pines, Three Lakes and Phelps, volleyball, football and soccer teams were back in action. Some schools in the state opted out of the fall season, but held an alternate fall season this spring. In fact, the alternate State Girls Volleyball Tournament was held last weekend, with Appleton North winning the Division 1 title and Washburn taking the Division 2 championship. Obviously, the tournament field was quite small, but the teams and seniors still got to play in a State Tournament.

The fall and winter 2020 sports seasons were completed at Pines, Three Lakes and Phelps without too many issues, which is an indication that the athletic directors, players and coaches did a good job with the COVID-19 guidelines. The Three Lakes girls basketball team even played in the WIAA Girls Basketball State Tournament in LaCrosse.

With more people getting the COVID-19 vaccination, the spring sports season should continue without too many problems if guidelines are followed by players, coaches and fans.

If that happens, then our sports pages will be filled with stories about area teams and athletes throughout the spring sports season.