Today would have been epic. Today would have been the state meet for Virginia and that would have meant memories being made, athletes winning their first state title, and history happening. Unfortunately with much bigger issues facing our country we will not have states this season but that won't stop us from thinking about states.
We've talked a lot about last year's states and what this year's states would have looked like but some things that goes often unnoticed are the unseen things at states.
Covering the state meet is one of the most exciting things we get to do. Aside from all of the races and performances there is a lot going on that often goes unnoticed. Sometimes that is because action is taking place on the track and other times it is because it happened when the stadium was empty.
It starts a lot earlier than that. Months before states even happens there are on-site visits and planning. Individuals like Chris Robinson, Shawn Knights, and Hannah Catherine Munro are doing their visits and planning for the VHSL to make sure the spotlight is on the athletes and competition.
They aren't the only ones planning and working ahead. Even just hours before the gates open you can see Joe Curcio or Ray Smith or Steve Geiman juggling six tasks and answering fifty questions at once. Bonus points are given when Al Dorner stops by and can brag about actually being able to play golf that week while everyone else is working.
The prep goes beyond just the meet directors and VHSL though as security, concessions, custodians, and grounds crews work around the clock to make sure every little thing is working and looks great. That includes Newport News public schools staff, Liberty University events staff, and many folks from East Rockingham.
Then comes the timers setting the meet up and making sure not only that one camera is ready and setup but that both cameras are ready and most importantly that there is something on top of the printer so paper doesn't fly away. The setup for them is months in the building.
It's now competition time. All the officials, volunteers, and of course athletes do their part to make states, states. When all the focus is rightfully on them though things are still happening around them that often go unnoticed.
You have members of the media working together to each get the perfect shot or to interview an athlete before the start of the next race. You have media members pitching different ideas to you and shedding a new insight on a story you may have not heard.
One of the best things though is seeing all the old coaches returning. Some who have been out of coaching for twenty plus years and still come out to watch the competition. Some coaches at schools that don't even exist anymore but states is more than a competition for them, it is a reunion.
Then you have the people who are there every year and no matter what get excited about the competition and what is going on. You have individuals like Walt Green who help clerk the meet and yet still finds a way to watch the big races and know the team totals at any point in the meet. You also have coaches like Van Porter who one second are coaching a state champion and the next are managing an exchange zone.
Unfortunately there are also some things that go unseen that should be seen by more. Specifically the pole vault and discus, two events kinda left on their own at most stadiums. Luckily for both though they have a very loyal following by their peers and their families. You'd be hard pressed to find any other event where a random parent knew the PR's of every competitor like in the pole vault.
Finally you get to the end of the meet. Everyone is packing up and slowly leaving. You have teams gathering to recap the meet and season and people saying their goodbyes until next year.
It is then, when nobody is looking that you see some of the best stuff. The trainer who stayed around late to help take the tents down or the grounds crew worker fixing some bolts on a high jump standards or the teams who stick around and thank the officials.
Though we are not at every single state meet there are a few teams that almost always make their way over to the timers tent to thank all the officials and shake their hands. Those teams include Western Branch, Atlee, and Maggie Walker.
States is way more than a meet. States is a gathering, a reunion, and a place where a lot of awesome things go unnoticed. States and our sport will be back so next time take a look around and enjoy states in all its glory.