You love to see it.

By it, of course, I mean the return.

Athletes at high schools all across Whitfield and Murray counties were back on the field Monday for the first time in what feels like an eternity (in actuality, it's been only about three months, but much has happened in those three months).

After the outbreak of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) began in the United States, I didn't know when or if I'd be stepping back on a field again to cover the exploits of athletes, and that's been painful, so I know it was a joy for all our local coaches and players to get back out there again.

Even if it was just in small groups. Even if it was just conditioning work. Even if everyone was 6 feet apart. Even if no sport-specific equipment was allowed.

It's not much, and it's very restricted, but it's something.

As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, and doubt still lingers on whether any actual fall seasons could be played, I think I speak for players, coaches, readers and myself in this statement: We'll take anything we can get.

Stepping foot on a football field again Monday, hearing the familiar tone of coaches correcting and instructing their players, the heaves and sighs of a winded runner, the gulps of water and the public address systems blaring music, it brought me hope.

No one knows what the future holds, whether that's with sporting seasons or the outcome of any of the events going on in the world right now.

Being out there Monday almost felt like a little slice of normal. Of what once was. Of what I hope can come again soon. Where the biggest problems I have are making sure to take proper notes while snapping pictures while observing what's happening.

Regardless of what's to come, Monday was an important day.

The Georgia High School Association found a way, in the midst of a global pandemic, to get athletes in contact sports on the field and working out. In a pretty safe way, from my perspective.

COVID-19 causes problems, and this one is being worked around. It's different, it's tedious, it's a pain for coaches and players to go through these precautions, but it's probably necessary. And, it's something.

When compared to the nothing we've had for three months, something looks a whole lot better.

It's something, and it's a first step. The first box checked in the list that ends with football on Friday nights in a few months.

Let's keep checking those boxes.

Daniel Mayes is the sports editor of the Daily Citizen-News. Write to him at danielmayes@dailycitizen.news.

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