FRANKLIN COUNTY — In the weeks ahead, Messenger Sports will be speaking with athletes from athletic teams at all five in-county high schools about their experience during the fall 2020 season.

These articles will give high school athletes the opportunity to reflect on the gratitude they felt for the chance to play, the challenges they faced, the things they enjoyed, and the memories they made this fall.

In normal years, high school athletes begin preseason in August. Scrimmages are played at the start of the season, and games begin in early September.

Once the season commences, the regular season is played into October, with playoffs taking place late in that month.

After a summer of uncertainty, high school sports got a late and hurried start at the end of September. Some teams competed in playoff games in early November.

The Enosburg girls’ and boys’ varsity soccer teams had to shovel the varsity field after inches of snow fell during the final week of playoffs.

Most teams played roughly half the normal schedule, which amounted to eight regular-season games. Some teams hosted several home games, while others spent the majority of time on the road.

Volleyball teams faced significant changes with matches hosted outdoors rather than in warm and predictable gymnasiums.

Teams dealt with rain, wind, muddy playing surfaces, and drastically reduced schedules. Varsity volleyball programs also had to forego their playoff season.

Football teams across the state were asked to make incredible sacrifices, trading tackle for 7v7 touch.

Linemen were required to abandon their positions and play as skilled players in quarters set aside for them.

The schedule was changed to a regional format, pitting DIII teams like BFA Fairfax against stiff DI and DII competition.

Thankfully, football teams were able to compete in regional tournaments, but those tournaments were not divided by division.

Cross country runners trained through the summer, often remotely, hopeful that they’d be racing in the fall. Some schools participated in head to head races, while others spent most of the season racing against teammates.

Athletes ran in the traditional Vermont state meet at Thetford, but New England’s was canceled, and a Meet of Champions was hosted instead.

Golf teams had the least time to prepare and compete, beginning the season at the end of September and finishing in the early weeks of October. Most practices were spent tallying scores in an attempt to qualify for states.

Through it all, athletes played with masks, skipped on team dinners, and went through temp checks and COVID questioning.

It was an opportunity for seniors to play one last fall season, even if it was short and sweet, and it was a time for everyone to enjoy what was available.

Thanks is extended to the athletes, coaches, athletic directors, bus drivers, and parents who worked so hard to make the season possible.

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