The holiday season brings several things. For one, it means time with our families away from the everyday stresses of life. Second, it brings a time for us to examine our lives and be thankful for the opportunities we’ve been given. Third, people can reminisce on how their last year has gone. Considering 2020 was so rough for so many of us, seeing 2021 wrapping up has to give us hope for what the future will hold. True, Covid is still here, the way people work and live has changed, but ultimately life is pretty close to being back to normal.

Perhaps the worst part of the shutdowns was how much it effected sports. I still remember covering spring sports last year at the beginning of the pandemic, and even earlier this year when masks were still optional and very few fans were allowed in. Since then, much has changed. Stadiums are filled up again, kids are allowed to play the sports they love and most of all, school is back, which gives children and young adults the opportunity to be themselves.

Most in the community may not be up to date on all the sports of the last twelve months, so this article will cover that. I will give a rundown of the sports teams who had successful seasons and give shoutouts to a few individuals who made athletics possible again.

Rancho Cotate Girls’ Softball: After losing their season in 2020, the girls responded well in 2021, going 12-3 and winning the North Bay League. However, because of the NCS safety rules, they weren’t able to make a playoff run like they have so many times in the past. It was a bittersweet year for the girls. Sweet because they were able to play softball and showed the county they’re still the team to beat but bitter because the NCS didn’t allow playoffs. This will be the team to watch moving into the new year. The girls are one of the best teams at Rancho and will provide more excitement. Congrats on another great season girls and cheers to more in the future.

Rancho Girls’ Golf: This team deserves a special shoutout. They embody what high school athletics is all about. Most of these girls went from never playing the game of golf to being one of the best teams in the North Coast Section. Despite finishing second in the North Bay League, the girls put up two outstanding efforts against Cardinal Newman High School. Newman is the standard for girls’ golf and the Cougars gave them everything they could handle. To put into perspective how much the girls improved throughout the season, just take a look at the matches against Newman. In less than a month, the Cougars cut 61 points off the Cardinals score. Going from losing by 64 strokes to just three in less than a month is insane. The nine-girl team of Bianca Nelson, Carlie Higgins, Kaitlyn Antonetti, Emily Bates, Jillian Kelly, Isay Liwanag and Kiera Daugherty represented their school admirably this season and deserve a special end of the year shoutout for it. One other note is that Liwanag and Higgins qualified to play for the Division 2 Golf Championship.

Rancho Cotate Wrestling: In every sport there’s two or three athletes who stand out and deserve recognition. In the case of the Rancho Wrestling team, three girls deserve shoutouts. These three made it all the way to the NCS Championships in Albany and placed very high in the classification.

Senior Bianca Nelson finished 3rd at the varsity level, Cheyenne Sitting Eagle Hepsley was 8th for Junior Varsity and Olivia Djuve finished 2nd.

Rancho Girls’ Volleyball: This team once again delivered the goods. For the third season in a row, the Cougars made the North Coast Section playoffs, and this time finally broke through to win a playoff game for the first time. The Cougars finished 18-13 on the season and showed they are a force to be reckoned with for years to come. The season wasn’t easy for the Cougars. Throughout the first third of the season, it looked like the girls wouldn’t be able to duplicate their recent success. But thanks to key leadership from their seniors and coming together as a team, the girls ended the season on an absolute terror and carried that momentum into a victory over Acalanes in the first round of the NCS Playoffs.

Rancho Football: There’s not much more to say about this team. The last two full seasons the Cougars played for the CIF State Championship game, then moved up to Division II, won a playoff game, won a league title, beat Cardinal Newman and Windsor. This team is filled with sophomores and juniors, so these kids will be back next season. Even though the season didn’t end how they wanted it to, this program is one of the crown jewels in the NCS and will only get better. Again, they delivered for the fans, and it was a privilege to cover this team and thank you to all the players, coaches, and scorekeepers for giving me information and their time after the game was over to talk.

Credo Boys’ Baseball: The boys deserve praise for their 2021 season. The Gryphon finished 11-6 and won a league championship. For a school like Credo who had most of the sports cancelled last year because of Covid, seeing the baseball team come out in the spring and play well is such a feel-good story. Covid tends to affect those schools that are much smaller and don’t have money to put into facilities. Credo and Technology High School both struggled with Covid more than a school like Rancho, who had the luxury of playing at least a few games for their sports. Silas Rowen-Herzog led the team in batting average and stolen bases, while Daniel Wong led the team with 24 runs batted in. Jelani Mason was second on the team with 19 RBIs.

Credo Girls’ Softball: Just like the boys, the girls had the opportunity for a little season. They only were able to play 9 games, but the team made the most of it, going 7-2. Because of the league they play in, the girls were affected some because teams in their league didn’t have seasons last year; so, the girls were trying to make do with whatever teams they could find.

Technology Boys’ Baseball: Technology High School’s experience was similar to Credo’s. The athletes missed out on opportunities to play sports this past spring but are taking advantage of it during the fall and winter seasons. The Tech High boys’ baseball was fortunate to play 8 games, going 4-4 in them. Assuming everything goes according to plan, the Titans should have more baseball games starting this spring.

Every sports team deserves a shoutout, but there’s only so much space to write these types of articles. With everything these kids went through the last two years, it’s great to see them out there. These last two years helped us understand the important things in life and one of those things is physical activity. Most of these athletes won’t be playing at the college level but having an opportunity to play the sport they love in front of adoring fans again is one of the things that makes sports fun. Thank you to all the athletes, coaches, scorekeepers, and fans for the past years and so on to next year.

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