The past year has been quieter than usual in Tehachapi on weekday nights. Usually, the town will mostly shut down early and residents will don their green and black colors and head to Tehachapi High School or hit the road to cheer on the latest edition of Warrior athletes.

“I think for the most part this town just needs something to rally around right now,” said Kris Krempien, the Warriors' head football coach. “Having been 15 months (since the shutdown), I think everyone just needs that focal point especially in a small town like Tehachapi, and athletics is a good spot for that.”

Then the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the world, affecting thousands of sports teams from professional to youth levels and the little town tucked away in the mountains wasn’t excluded, as all Warrior sports and youth-level leagues were forced to take more than a year off from competition.

“Kids that are seniors now were sophomores when it all went down so it's a huge layover for a lot of kids going from junior varsity to their senior year and it's their last chance to play,” added Krempien. “It’s different when you’re playing with a club team and get to suit up with your school. I think there’s more pride that goes along with that.”

Finally in spring 2021, a glimmer of normalcy returned as local teams were allowed to return to action. However, due to Tehachapi’s secluded location, and the Kern High School District’s stance on having teams only play locally, the Warriors only got a partial return, seeing sports like football, basketball and volleyball continue to sit out while baseball, softball, soccer, tennis and swimming werefinally allowed the green-and-black to return to the playing field and give the town something to cheer for again.

“I was pushing kids to go out for sports (that returned in spring 2021) even if they've never done it because it was something to get them out of the house,” said Krempien. “And for a lot of kids unfortunately with academics, if they don't have those athletics to be like a carrot dangling in front of them, they’re just not going to pursue the academic side of things.”

Despite the abbreviated seasons to get the athletes back on the field, Tehachapi still found success. Baseball, softball and girls soccer all posted winning records and girls swimming placed second in the Division II Central Section Championship.

But while life gets back to normal, things won’t be completely back until the town’s bread and butter returns to the field. The players joined with players from Boron to form a competitive traveling team for 2020 but Oct. 25, 2019, was the last time the town hosted an official high school football game featuring its Warriors, who haven’t taken the field overall since Nov. 1 of that year. The team hopes that in fall of 2021, they can add to their trophy case featuring 30 league and 11 section titles after the unusually long layoff and have the town behind them at full force to support them.

Other successes weren’t able to be followed-up on either because of the pandemic. Girls basketball took home a league championship in the 2019-20 season and made a run in the D-II playoffs but wasn't able to follow up because of the pause.

Overall, all but two teams' sports made the playoffs in 2019-20, so there’s a lot of expectations looming when the athletic competition is able to return in full force in Tehachapi.

“Nothing is etched in stone in terms of capacity of the stadium, but I would imagine that we’re going to have packed stands, because of the tradition and history of the program and the support the town always gave it,” said Krempien. “I think because there are high school sports again, I hope that we’re going to have a packed house to maximum capacity with a standing-room-only-type atmosphere for our first home game.”

The town will be anxiously awaiting the full return of Warrior sports on its weeknights starting in the fall. You won’t want to miss it.