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  • David Cunningham

Cheers, to the End of 2020

It’s been such a difficult, strange and unique year.

I remember sitting at the ACC Tournament in March and seeing schools across the country announcing the extension of spring break and/or online classes for the remainder of the semester. I remember thinking, “hey, maybe it will just be a thing for a few months and we’ll be back to normal in the fall.”

Nine months later, the pandemic is still present. 2021 is around the corner, and we are inevitably taking the pandemic into the new year with us.

As much negative as the last few months brought us, I personally felt like there were some positives along the way.

I can’t say this is how I expected my time in college to go. It’s been very weird to be in college and be taking classes in a time like this. As for being a student journalist… that’s been a different animal.

Through my first three and a half years at Virginia Tech, my life consisted of going to and covering every Hokies sporting event while focusing on classes on the side. I was once told my sophomore year that the best experience for student journalists is out in the field, where you can apply the different techniques you learned in the classroom.

So, that’s what I did, and I had fun doing it. I covered 70 (why yes, of course I kept track - in Excel, no less) different Virginia Tech sporting events from August through March of my junior year, with the last game being VT-UNC at the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament in Greensboro, two days before the madness.

Through this fall semester, I covered just one - Hokies men’s basketball vs. Longwood on Dec. 21. I worked plenty of other games - 15, to be exact - for ESPN, the ACC Network and RSN, and I’m very grateful for the opportunities. I learned a lot of new tips and tricks behind the scenes with HokieVision, and I’m thankful to that crew for entrusting me with the scorebug (that crashed too many times) and for putting me in positions to succeed.

It was weird not being in a press box, though.

Despite that, I still feel like I’ve grown in some ways this year that I don’t think I would have if this had been a normal year.

I’m grateful to Alex Ahl and the Morgan family for taking a chance on me and giving me the opportunity to call Peninsula Pilots baseball games over the summer just 25 minutes from home, something I’ve always wanted to do.

I’m appreciative of our entire 3304 Sports team. We established a website last December, beat writers in August and I close out 2020 having edited 113 articles since the start of the fall semester four months ago. We killed it.

I can’t help but think about the what-ifs. I was in the process of trying to figure out how I was going to get to Tech women’s basketball’s first NCAA Tournament game since 2006 before it was cancelled, and I can’t help but chuckle that my first ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament ever was the one that was wiped away on Day 3 by a pandemic. Don’t think many of my colleagues that were in Greensboro can say that.

I often think of the family members and friends I didn’t get to see in 2020. Christmas was definitely a bit strange - usually at grandma’s house, this was the first time my family was in our home on Christmas Day since 2003. I was four.

I feel lucky to make it through 2020 unscathed. I feel like a lot of people can’t say that. And like I said before, there are a lot of positives from this year.

Once sports came back, they were fun. Watching NASCAR, the Bundesliga and Premier League in May before other sports returned was pretty cool, and the NWSL, NBA and WNBA bubbles were all entertaining to watch. Heck, even the Rays, which I’ve become a fan of (thanks Tech alum Erik Neander) made the World Series. I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll have similar luck in my second full season as a fan.

College football and the NFL did fantastic jobs overcoming hurdles that COVID-19 presented, and it was relaxing to sit back and have Saturdays be semi-normal. Same with college basketball being back - can’t beat it.

It’s been the year of sacrifice, in my opinion. No one asked for this. It just happened, and many of the challenges have been tough to overcome. Some have handled things better than others.

I mentioned being a student journalist earlier. I talked a lot about the journalist part, but being a student… that was difficult this year. I felt for the seniors that graduated in May online because it wasn’t safe to hold an in-person graduation, but it didn’t hit me until recently that I’ll probably be in the same situation come May.

I live off-campus in Blacksburg and I always took the bus or bike to get to campus as a sophomore and junior. Because of the circumstances, I didn’t have a single in-person class this fall. Not one. And I took 18 credits.

It felt eerie at times when I did visit campus, the few times I went to say hi to my sister, Sarah, who is a freshman, or when I walked over there just to get exercise and out of the apartment. I probably made it to campus a total of 20 times this entire semester, not counting sporting events. I did that in a week in previous years.

It’s been such a weird year, and I, like everyone else, am ready for 2020 to be over. I’m appreciative for the plentiful opportunities I had this year, grateful that I escaped 2020 COVID-free.

Most of all, I’m thankful for all of the family and old friends I got to see and the new friends I got to make (looking at you, student journalism pals).

Oh, and I’m thankful for Sub Station II (always), Season 7 of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Season 2 of The Mandalorian. Those helped me get through some rough patches.

Cheers, to the end of 2020 and in hopes that 2021 will be the best year yet.

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