Mattoon golfers hit their approach shots over the pond on No. 9 during Monday’s better-ball tournament at Charleston Country Club.

By Kyle Daubs

Monday was an historic day for Coles County.

Monday marks the first official day that high school sports has returned after a prolonged shutdown from COVID-19. After nearly five months of cancellations, postponements, heartbreaks, and speculation, the competition through the IHSA is back. 

The Mattoon and Charleston High School golf teams played at the Charleston Country Club in the Charleston Scramble. Athletes, coaches, and spectators are now required to wear face coverings throughout competition. The only time that an athlete can take their mask off is when they are hitting. 

There are a lot of emotions here. 

For starters: Joy. Every athlete, coach, and parent should feel a sense of happiness that there is a chance that their season can be played out. From talking to those associated with golf, there are state-caliber players in the county on both sides. 

There’s a chance that we could see three of the four golf teams in the county make a run at state, if a state tournament does take place. 

Losing the Mattoon Invitational is one of the most sacred golf tournaments in the state of Illinois. So that loss stings. There are reasons for optimism, though. Even though there are limited invitationals, players should be excited they can hone their craft at least through conference and perghaps regional events.

However, there is a risk in playing. There is a reason that both Mattoon and Charleston opted to move to remote learning to begin the school year. For those same reasons, the status of a full season remains unknown. 

Fall sports will serve as a test. If golf, cross country, tennis, and swimming can pull this off, that might prove that other sports can then take place — even indoor sports such as basketball and volleyball.

By winter, we might have more information on how to adapt. But that’s in the future. 

For now, let’s enjoy the moment.

Sports are back and we needed this.