Making a very tough choice
Finals schedule leads to problem
It was by far the hardest decision of my professional career.
I’m not about to complain about having three teams advance to their respective finals because I love to cover championship games. It is what all these athletes dream of and what a sports writer lives for.
But with both the ConVal softball and Conant baseball teams scheduled for Saturday night at 7 p.m., one of them was going to be short changed. And the one thing I kept asking myself was ‘how do you to choose to cover one team over another?’
The Cougars and Orioles each had great seasons and earned the right to have their championship games covered. And what made the decision even more difficult were the circumstances that surrounded their impressive runs to the finals.
It was the first time any ConVal softball team had played for a state title. For Conant baseball, the lone championship in program history came in 1956 and the only other trip to a title game was in 1986, well before any of the players were even born.
But I had to choose. I wrestled with it between Wednesday night — when Conant won its semifinal game to set up the scenario of two games at the same time — right up to Saturday morning.
Until Friday, it looked as though my Saturday would be even more crazy. The Wilton-Lyndeborough softball team was supposed to play in the D-IV finals in Plymouth at 4 p.m., but I figured I’d still be able to make it down to Manchester for one of the late games. Then the WLC finals was moved to Sunday, which turned out to be a very good thing since the 19-10 loss to Woodsville took a lot longer than expected and would have caused me to possibly speed from Plymouth in order to make it to Manchester on time.
So in the end, I chose ConVal. My grand idea was to try and cover both in some way or another. In most cases, softball games take less time than baseball and was I ever hoping for that to be the case. In my mind I had it all planned out.
I would go to Southern New Hampshire University for the ConVal and Coe-Brown Division II softball finals and then make my way over to Northeast Delta Dental Stadium for the last few innings of the Division III baseball title game between Conant and Somersworth. With four baseball championship games scheduled for the same day and Conant in the final time slot, I thought for sure it would start a few minutes late.
But that ended up being far from what actually took place. Conant started about 20 minutes early and completely threw off my plan. I was receiving updates from the Conant game and early on I knew my night was not going to play out like I had hoped.
And when all was said and done, the Orioles had clinched their first state championship in 57 years as ConVal was hitting in the top of the seventh of their historic victory.
It was hard being at SNHU and desperately wanting to be see what was going on about 10 minutes away. While it was quite an experience watching the ConVal players celebrate, I could only imagine what was going on with the Orioles. I wish I got to witness both.
But I guess, in a way, it worked out. Both teams won their championships and while I did not get to see Conant, interviewing seniors Josh LeBlanc and Devin Springfield the next morning gave me an insight into what the moment was like.
I saw this scenario was a possibility when I first looked at the playoff schedule and while I felt there was a real good chance both could make it, I did not give it a whole lot of thought until it got to the semifinals. That was when I started trying to break down how it would all work.
And when it came down to it, I had to make a tough choice. It’s the last thing I wanted to do, but something that had to be done.
I’m just happy that both teams won, especially after last season’s heartbreak in the semifinals.
It has been a few years since I’ve had multiple champions, but I hope this trend continues into the fall — just not at the same time on the same day.