12-17-2020 Sports

Press Box Player of the Week!

By John Oliphant Tri-City Record Press Box Player of the Week for Dec. 17, 2020 is Watervliet’s Grace Chisek. This freshman started her high school sports career on the volleyball team and has been named to the SAC First Team, and earned All-Region honors as well as being named one of the MVPs on the Panther team. She led her team with 476 assists and 196 digs, was second with 40 aces, and also collected 19 kills and 12 blocks.

Those are impressive stats for any volleyball player, but Grace did all that in her first season in a high school sport. Grace says that playing against girls three years older was definitely something she had to adapt to coming off a season playing against much younger athletes. Naturally the SAC varsity teams hit a lot harder and faster requiring her to speed up her reaction time, especially on defense.

Grace is the setter on the team, and has been playing volleyball for four years. She hones her skills playing club volleyball for USA Michigan, one of the top teams in the area. Volleyball is her favorite sport and she also plays basketball and softball.

Her favorite volleyball moment, so far, is being down 8-13 in a 15-point state championship club game and coming back to win. She described the best game of the varsity season this year in the first round of the playoffs. “On Wednesdays we have a virtual day, so we came in early and played board games and decorated the gym. We had the best teamwork that night and everyone was very positive. It was just a fun game to be in.”

About her first high school team, she said there were funny, serious, and sad moments. “I am happy I was able to be on a team with every one of them this year!” She credits Coach Edie Daugherty for pushing her, saying “coach was also a setter and gave me great advice on how I could get better.”

She has a few years to decide, but at this point she plans to pursue a career in sports medicine. Congratulations Grace!

Hartford Press Box By Jerrod Birmele

The “Pause” of 2020 continues – high school sports still suspended

This year has been a very difficult time to be a sports reporter, especially for us “Press Box” writers at the high school level. To have stories to report to our loyal readers, we have to have sporting events to report on. And while we have ultimately known since the spring time that events throughout the year would be considered a last minute decision in many cases, it has taken all of our might to keep these columns going strong. And following the recent decision at the state level to expand on the current “pause” for another extended period of time means that many school campuses are closed until at-least the conclusion of Christmas break; in Hartford’s case, the middle of January. But that also means that high school athletics will not begin game action before the turning of the calendar to the year 2021. If current trends continue the break may continue into the near future at the earliest.

So, what this all means is that we will end the year 2020 just like we did for almost six months: without reporting on any high school athletic events. So, unfortunately, there are no basketball scores to report on this week. No takedowns and pins are happening on the wrestling mats. And, yes, there are no scores and loud cheers coming from the competitive cheerleading team.

As hard as it has been on us writers I can only imagine the disappointment and sadness on the minds of our great athletes, especially those seniors that may never have a chance to compete in athletics after completing high school in just five or six months. For many student-athletes, this is their great escape from the demands of everyday life and an opportunity to spend time with their friends or a chance to make a new, lifelong friendship.

But we are reminded that just because we have no high school sports to write about, does not mean that all is bad in the world. We should all be fortunate around this time of festive cheer that our families and friends are well and that we are alive and healthy this holiday season. Because, there are countless others that have suffered the ultimate heartbreak of the loss of someone they love or know, and I think of them as I finish this column today.

All this writer has to say is yes, there are better and brighter days that lie ahead. And, as a human family, we still need to work together to combat the pandemic in the days, weeks and months ahead. Maybe, just maybe, because of a small gesture of remaining six feet apart, masking up and washing our hands for a few sec