Morse: Spring sports season shines light at end of tunnel

Ken Morse

The return of high school spring sports helped to shine a light at the end of the tunnel.

More than 500 fans showed up to cheer on Naugatuck and Woodland when they met May 26 at Naugatuck High to decide the Naugatuck Valley League softball championship. The crowd was the largest to watch a high school sporting event around these parts since the Naugatuck boys basketball team defeated Holy Cross at Wilby High School back in March 2020 to win the NVL title.

Two days after Naugatuck won its first NVL basketball title in 51 years, everything shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the 2020 spring sports season.

As high school sports gradually returned over the past 15 months, some teams were able to forge on under a list of protocols, including social distancing and wearing masks. Other sports like football and wrestling had their seasons cancelled. Still others like swimming competed in unprecedented virtual meets. Some teams and athletes were forced to quarantine.

It was not only a success that this past spring sports season played out to completion with league and state tournaments, it was a giant step toward some normalcy in our lives.

The season was truly like no other.

Naugatuck and Woodland played against each other for the first time with an NVL softball championship at stake, ending a run of 15 years in the title game by Seymour.

The Woodland baseball (21-3) and softball (23-1) teams set new marks for most wins in a season and both marched all the way to the Class M semifinals.

The Woodland boys tennis team went on an unexpected postseason run that ended in the NVL title match against Watertown. To ease that disappointment, the Hawks’ doubles team of Andy Hopkinson and Tyler Macdowall went on to win the NVL title in the individual tournament.

To stay on track, the Woodland girls claimed their six NVL outdoor track and field championship in the last seven years, and the Naugatuck boys defended their 2019 NVL title by racing down another outdoor championship.

In order for these success stories to take place a big thank you goes out to the CIAC, school officials, and the coaches who were there day in and day out for the athletes.

The biggest success story is the athletes themselves who endured through it all, and the senior class, which beyond the fields, courts and track, were able to attend proms again and celebrate graduating among the cheers of family and friends. Truly memories they will cherish forever.