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I hate bringing up the pandemic during the holiday season, a time that is supposed to be filled with so much joy and fun, but looking at the last year shows something interesting.

At this time last year, teams across Montana were only practicing for their winter seasons (for Montana High School Association activities, that is).

The pandemic had pushed back the start of the regular season to January, making it so that wrestling and basketball started competitions in a new calendar year, which is unusual of course.

Now, this school year, instead of starting in January, competitions already started in the first weekend of December, a whole month earlier than last school year.

It just goes to show how much this year has returned to normal, and when you consider that the 2020-2021 season and the 2021-2022 season both started in 2021, it puts things into perspective on how unique this year has been.

Of course, we just got done with Christmas a week ago, and if the presents you got weren’t what you were expecting or up-to-par, the gift of having sports back to normal should be a good enough gift at least.

The pandemic isn’t officially over of course, but for schools, teams and athletes, the concerns of a season being halted or canceled are not nearly as great as they were last year.

Rather, seasons have started on time, and they have been playing out smoothly so far.

It will be a nice change of pace to jump into the new year with sports already going on, rather than having waited longer for them to begin.

Yeah, it’s not fun talking about the pandemic, but in this sense, with how much things changed in this year alone, it’s actually nice to reflect on it all.

With that being said, I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday season.

As was aforementioned, the holiday season is one that should be filled with joy and fun and great times, so I hope that was the case for everyone.

Looking ahead, we have a whole new calendar year greeting us.

Hopefully this year brings about even more progress toward the end of the pandemic and we can truly “get back to normal.”

Happy New Year everyone, and I wish nothing but the best for all of you in 2022.

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