WESTFIELD – The year 2020 began like any other.
Scratch that. The year 2020 began like … no other.
Westfield High School girls basketball star Olivia Hadla scored her 1,000th career point in a late January contest against Minnechaug, joining the Bombers’ 1,000 point club, which includes the likes of Jim Jachym, Mary Regan, Jodi Beach, Lori Mayhew, Manuel “Maui” Diaz, and Alex Garstka.
Championship weekend produced a few golden nuggets.
Westfield junior Catie Bean won the 300 meter dash at the Western Massachusetts Indoor Track & Field Championships at Smith College in Northampton. Bombers senior Tommy Russell finished first in the 100 yard backstroke at the WMass Swimming & Diving Championships.
Russell extended his arms and his success at the state swim finals, winning the 50 freestyle by shattering the school record with a 21.19 finish and finishing first in the 100 backstroke for the second straight year.
St. Mary’s senior Jack Masciadrelli won the Slalom and Giant Slalom to capture the Pioneer Valley Interscholastic Athletic Conference Individual Championship.
In early March, Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association member schools voted 193-140 to replace sectional tournaments with a state-wide tourney in nearly every high school sport, beginning in fall 2021.
Then Covid struck.
March Madness went up in smoke. The high school spring season was delayed, and eventually canceled. American Legion Baseball tournaments and a Westfield Post 124 season? Gone. Little League World Series? Ditto.
For the Westfield Starfires, who produced the 2019 batting champion (Thomas Joyce, .370 batting average), a top 10 home run hitter (Christian Walsh, 6 HRs, tied 7th), and the strikeout leader (Jack Fox, 79 Ks) in their inaugural season, the show would still go on in Year Two. The Starfires battled COVID and a string of worthy opponents, all while following socially-distant rules and regulations, to complete a second season, albeit in front of sparse crowds at Bullens Field.
It was welcome news for local baseball fans as the New England Collegiate Baseball League locked its gates due to coronavirus concerns, benching the Valley Blue Sox for the 2020 season.
Late in the spring, Longmeadow co-op girls ice hockey forward Jordan Kowalski, of Westfield received the Kacey Bellamy Girls MVP Award, capping off a four-year career which saw her notch 50 goals and 41 assists.
Little League Baseball and Babe Ruth Baseball began in the city with restrictions and guidelines. The 2020 Suburban Amateur Football League season, which included Westfield and was comprised of teams from all over Western Massachusetts was cancelled.
The Southwick Regional School Committee voted to nix the fall sports season for all but golf and intramural competition, leading to a small wave of protests by students, coaches, and parents.
All was not lost this fall though.
Much like the Covid-shortened youth sports seasons this past summer, fall sports teams at Westfield High, Westfield Technical Academy, and St. Mary’s embarked on shorter regular seasons with no tournaments.
The defending Western Massachusetts Division 1 girls soccer champion Westfield Bombers produced yet another historic moment when senior forward Chandler Pedolzky recorded her 100th career point in a 7-0 shutout of Hampshire Regional.
Just before the turn of the calendar, the Southwick School Board approved competitive play for all of its winter sports teams.