After pausing athletic competitions last year during the pandemic, middle school sports are back.

“Our students are adjusting very well to being back in school sports,” says Rick Cushman, Harding Middle School girls soccer coach. “I see a love for having both the scheduled commitment to doing something positive with their time and having a distraction from all the hardship the last year has been in our community with the derecho and COVID. They come out on the field and work hard together with their teammates to learn and achieve goals while having fun.”

“It was great to see girls back in the gym learning and doing what they love, having fun with their friends,” adds Katrina Burke, Franklin Middle School volleyball coach.

This year’s middle school fall sport competitions—in volleyball, football, cross country, soccer, and tennis—were largely limited to inner-district match-ups due to transportation challenges.

“It’s been amazing how all the different schools have worked together and problem-solved to make things happen,” says Lynn Johnson, middle school activities coordinator. “Kids have been ready to come back and play.”

Eighth grade students are especially enjoying being back on the field after missing their seventh grade season.

“Our eighth grade students experienced loss when they weren’t able to compete in the sports they love last year,” explains Cushman. “When talking to some of my eighth grade girls in soccer this season, I feel they have gained some very positive perspectives and understanding of how lucky they are to have certain things back in our lives at this time. I don’t see them taking sports—and many other things in their lives—for granted as much, having known what the reality of living life while not having sports to exercise their bodies and minds was like.”

“Knowing that there is no guarantee that any of us will be competing tomorrow has made it more valuable that we do compete today,” Cushman adds.

View photos from fall middle school sports competitions here.