The Virginia High School League (VHSL) state track meets in Harrisonburg this weekend, along with regional and state finals in baseball, softball, soccer, and tennis occurring around the Old Dominion over the next few days, pretty much brings the end of high school sports tournaments for the school years for institutions where classes adjourned three-to-four weeks ago.
For Floyd County High School, the state track meet wraps up the year in Buffaloes sports. The baseball Buffaloes and softball Lady Buffs seasons ended Thursday with semi-final regional losses.
Overall, good season for several of the FCHS sports. Football, volleyball, and basketball teams made the playoffs and, in some cases, the semi-finals of state contests and a state crown for the golf team.
The COVID-19 pandemic put sports on hold from March through late December of last year and the seasons were truncated to try and get them all in when football started in late December.
As the Floyd Press photographer assigned to cover many of the sporting events into June of this year, I’ve been delightfully busy for the past six months, often too much so to cover as many of the events as available. The regional semi-final baseball and football matches were a good example. i could not be in Floyd, where the baseball Buffaloes lost to Appomattox 9-8, and Glenvar as the softball Lady Buffs lost to the Highlanders by one run too.
Shooting photos of high school sports has become one of the many pleasant surprises in our life since leaving the Washington, DC, area in 2004 in semi-retirement after more than 40 years of adventures as a reporter and photojournalism.
I had expected a quiet, and probably boring, time here in the Blue Ridge Mountains after assignments that took me to places around the world and covering much of the history of the past half-century.
But then-Floyd Press editor Wanda Combs had other ideas when she asked me to shoot Buffaloes football game in the fall of 2004, then followed up with more requests for sports photo coverage. In 2005, she asked me to cover meetings of the County Board of Supervisors, reporting on what was happening in the county’s government, then added coverage of Circuit Court at a time when production and use of crystal meth and other drugs were on the rise.
In the early morning hours of April 16, 2007, a phone call from an assignment editor in Washington asked if I lived close enough to Virginia Tech to get over there to help cover a shooting. That was the mass killing of 32 and wounding of 17 more in the largest massacre on a college campus.
It wasn’t something I expected to see here in Southwestern Virginia.
Neither was the explosion of cases involving child pornography or sexual abuse of minors that appears far too often in our courts. Same for the massive drug ring involving heorin, cocaine, and involvement of a Mexican crime cartel or violent crimes that have brought multiple life sentences to some residents of our county.
A British con man tried to rip off county tax funds and cheated individuals with promises of a “data center” that was a fraud while skipping out of rents and bills before one of his many schemes sent him to prison and England now wants him for crime back on the other side of the atlantic. We were criticised for writing about the antics of Paul Allen but our stories were right and he was convicted and punished.
In the midst of all this, the music that is part of the culture of Floyd County and the accomplishments of our high school athletes have been seas of relative calm and reason in our county. State championships by our Lady Buffaloes basketball and softball teams, a trip to the state final by our football squad, the state wins by our golf teams and individual state trophies by our track stars are accomplishments that we should cherish.
Our public school system is setting up vocational and career growth programs that state officials say are “models” to follow, Our internationally-acclaimed Friday Night Jamboree, idled by the pandemic, returns in July, along with FloydFest and other events.
I spent Friday battling the after-effects of heat stroke after covering the regional semi-final softball game in Glenvar Thursday but it was worth it because I had yet anotehr chance to capture images of our high school athletes in their sporting prowess for our newspaper.
Our congratulations to the many young athletes who accomplished so much during the difficult 14 months of a pandemic and the turmoil that surrounded them and us.
Great job and thank you for letting me help document your achievements.