Covering high schools during COVID was exhausting and exciting | #coronavirus | #kids. | #children | #schools



As a high school sports writer, this was without a doubt the hardest year of my career.

As a global pandemic impacted the nation, the University Interscholastic League had to adjust the high school calendar, and it put a lot of sports on top of one another. There was never a great time to take off or get some rest like usual.

It was hard choosing where to go and who to cover, but somehow I made it through the whole school year covering Humble ISD and other districts in the Lake Houston area, such as Crosby and Huffman, in addition to some Houston ISD stories in Bellaire, Heights and Sharpstown.

I’ve talked with some other reporters in the Houston area, and it seems like we’re all running on fumes after a year of worrying about masks and safety in addition to touchdowns and 3-pointers.

From March 2020 to March 2021, I only went to high school sports event and practices and maybe visited a restaurant three times. I couldn’t be one of those young people who doesn’t care about the coronavirus because I have a lot of older family members that have health conditions. Unfortunately, it hit close to home — my aunt Elizabeth Delgado Rodriguez died due to COVID and the family is still learning to recover. Plus, I thought, what if I got COVID and spread it to a player or coach and now they’re shut down for two weeks as the playoffs approach?

High school athletics literally went day-by-day this school year. You never knew if there was going to be a game that afternoon because an athlete or coach called in sick, or maybe the team was waiting on test results to come back to see if they could play or practice.

Still, all seasons were played, and it was a successful year for a lot of the programs that The Observer and Houston Chronicle covered.

You can’t forget about the Summer Creek boys track and field team winning the Class 6A state title. Shelton Ervin told me at the beginning of the season that his group of Bulldogs could make a run at a state title and they did just that. They were led by the “Big Three” in Barry Richards, Kevin Grubbs and Jalen Rivers. Ervin, who grew up in my hometown area of Westbury in the southwest part of Houston, is a great coach and always gets the best out of his players. The Bulldogs have been fitted for rings, and they will be here in a couple of months.

Kingwood Park’s boys’ and girls’ basketball teams won their first district titles and made deep runs in the playoffs. The Panthers also won their first swimming title since 2009, and the boys soccer team made it to the Class 5A state title game.

Basketball was huge as it always is in the Humble area.

Atascocita made it back to the state tournament but fell in the state semifinal to Austin Westlake. The Region III-6A final game between Atascocita and Summer Creek was without a doubt the best boys basketball game I’ve ever seen. It took a buzzer beater for the Eagles to come out on top.

On the football field, Atascocita was the only Humble ISD team to make it to the playoffs and ran into a Ridge Point squad that was loaded with talent. This will be coach Craig Stump’s 10th season at Atascocita in the fall, and he’s still searching for that state title. He has a lot of starters returning so it could be a great season. Coach Cale Melton and Kingwood ended the season on a two-game winning streak and will be back for more this season.

This year I also added two new schools to my beat in Hargrave and Crosby.

Crosby’s football team made it back to state for the first time since 1960. Jerry Prieto guided the Cougars to the state championship game in just his second season.

Hargrave had historic seasons in many sports, including winning its first ever area round football game and the boys basketball team’s magical ride to the Class 4A state final game led by Jacob Harvey and coach Scott Barrett.

So many memories were made this year, and in a few months, we will meet new athletes who are coming in from middle school and underclassmen who will standout and become the next high school sports stars.



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