Just before the start of a very busy and gratifying time for sports fans, sports were effectively canceled. Everything on the list, from pro to amateur to youth and in between. Concerns about COVID-19 ground the sports world to a halt as a way to help prevent the spread of this virus. Sports is just doing its part, as painful as it is for those of us who enjoy athletic distractions on a regular basis.
Tehachapi High School has been impacted as well. The school district has suspended all spring sports and non-essential gatherings for the foreseeable future. It’s a changing situation, so for how long is yet to be determined, but it was the right call as we continue down this mysterious journey. These are unpredictable times, but as unprecedented as this seems, Tehachapi has a history of these sort of landscape-changing events.
In 1943 the Warrior football season included a six-game schedule as the ramped-up war efforts of World War II made competition a secondary priority. News reports from this newspaper claim that at the beginning of the season there were only hopes that there would be enough gasoline to make road games a possibility. Tehachapi played just six games that season and played a six-man football style to make up for dwindling rosters.
A year later the situation was nearly unchanged; most teams, including Tehachapi, had trouble filling rosters as young men enlisted in the armed services. Some games in '44 were played six-man style, some 11-man style. Tehachapi played most teams twice in order to complete an 11-game schedule. To make matters worse, a few months earlier a fire gutted the gymnasium and several classrooms at THS making that season far from normal for many teams.
But, in true Tehachapi fashion, the Warriors persevered. Principal Paul Giddings wrote in the 1945 yearbook, “I wish to express my appreciation to the students, faculty and personnel of the high school for their cooperative attitude and willingness to sacrifice present conveniences in an emergency situation such as we have had this past year. When one is deprived of the customary things of life, as we all have been, due to the war and the added hardships of our fire, one is inclined to lose interest and cease all constructive efforts. Contrary to the usual expectations, however, you have all through greater effort and forbearance, risen to greater heights, for which I personally thank you.”
It was the war effort and while student-athletes missed out on playing time, senior seasons were cut short and the high school sports experience wasn’t as advertised, given the national situation, it was par for the course. This too is a war effort of sorts. While the opponent isn’t a fascist regime bent on world takeover, it is one that is disrupting life as we know it with the potential to overwhelm our health system if not checked in some fashion. The best way to stop this opponent is to change our way of life for the time being, to deprive ourselves of some things like baseball or other sports that bring us joy. This momentary pause is our hardship and our sacrifice for the greater good.
Just as the Warriors did following the sacrifices of World War II, this generation of Warriors will return as well. Return to win more games, lift more trophies and celebrate with their teammates and community. They will continue to compete and appreciate as a result, the sacrifices of this year, 2020.
I too will persevere, despite the sports world taking a pause. I’ll continue to write X’s and Arrows each week, to remind us of people like Mr. Giddings, and help reassure you that sports continues to play a role, and will once again very soon.
That’s the attitude and mindset of a Tehachapi Warrior, and I wouldn’t do it any other way.
Corey Costelloe has covered NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter and broadcaster. A THS graduate, he now resides in Tehachapi. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed are his own.