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TAYLOR MADE: WE'RE BACK — SORT OF (2021-01-10)

It's been 308 days since a Tioga County varsity athletic team has seen competition. That all changes this week with the start of the bowling, and boys swimming and diving seasons.

The Owego keglers kick things off at Owego Bowl Monday with a match against Norwich while the Indian swimmers take to the pool Friday to close out the first week back, hosting Chenango Forks. The bowlers also a have match Wednesday at Forks.

In the IAC, Candor and Newark Valley open the bowling season Tuesday in what I can only describe to you as a long-distance match. The Indians will be knocking down the pins at Owego Bowl all season, opting not to visit other teams' houses. NV will be the host for this match, rolling balls at Cardinal Lanes. Both schools compete again Thursday with Candor hosting Elmira Notre Dame and NV entertaining Odessa-Montour.

Unfortunately for the fans, there will be no spectators present at the events. This means fans will rely heavily on the media to get results and follow team and individual progression throughout the season.

With three schools bowling and just one swimming / diving team, it is not financially feasible for the owner of the website to bring me back on a full-time basis, but I will do my best to keep the readership up to date. Meanwhile, I will continue working at the CVS Distribution Center in Chemung so that I can continue to meet my financial obligations.

One thing the past several months made me realize was I've gotten a little soft carrying a camera and notepad around. Now, after working at a Walmart garden center and now, CVS for the last 4 1/2 months, I've gained a whole new respect for manual laborers.

Lugging around bags of mulch, sand, sod and rock helped rejuvenate the muscles in my arms, legs and torso. Working at the CVS warehouse has been even more demanding. It's a face-paced environment with some heavy lifting required at times. Being on my feet and moving constantly for 10 hours (most days) have helped me get the old legs back in shape and improved my cardio.

However, there is an overwhelming desire to return to what I like best — sports writing. Being away from the athletes has been painfully grueling, but I'm sure I'm telling you anything you don't already know. Whether you're an athlete, coach, parent or just a fan of sports, you've had to endure 10 months without the thrill of competition and the excitement grabbing that victory.

The start-up of bowling and swimming is a small sign that we are gradually returning to normal — at least as normal as things can be given everything which has transpired. I'm hopeful our young athletes in other sports will soon get to return to their chosen endeavors as well. Until then, I will keep my fingers crossed.

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A note to coaches and athletic administrators: You will be important now more than ever in assisting me with keeping our readership informed about how our athletes and teams are doing. Please work with me to provide our athletes with the publicity they deserve.

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