I am supposed to be up to my ears in sports coverage right now. School would usually be back in full swing, football, volleyball, golf and cross-country would all be starting, and I would be running all over making sure I got everything covered. But here we are. School hasn’t started yet and when it does the students will not even be in the classrooms. The student athletes won’t put on a uniform for the next several months at least, and it is something that none of us expected.

I remember it like it was yesterday; I had just got home from work one day way back in March. I pulled up Twitter on my computer, and it was announced that schools in Martinsville and Henry County were closing for two weeks because of COVID-19. The first thing that ran through my mind was that spring sports was going to be delayed, or altered due to this decision. Little did I know that I would be sitting here in September still waiting on high school sports to begin, and I will still be waiting until December at the earliest.

We are almost six months into high school sports not being played, a half of an entire calendar year. Recently former Gazette-Virginian sports editor Joe Chandler and myself went to VIR together to cover the races there, and we talked a lot driving back and forth to the track about the unique situation I am in. Joe covered sports in Halifax County for 43 years and he never encountered what I have in the first few months on the job.

I didn’t start covering sports here until the end of January. Then by the middle of March everything was canceled. I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know what to do. I was petrified that I would have to find content to fill my sports section for a few weeks. If I knew then that I was going to be doing the same thing for six months straight I probably would have had some sort of panic attack. Not to pay myself on the back here too much but six months later I have still been able to churn out a sports section three times a week. But all of the credit doesn’t go to just me.

While I am the sole sports writer here I have been blessed with getting to know some great people in Halifax County that I have been able to form relationships with. Some days I will be struggling to figure out what I am going to be able to put in my section and then like someone heard my cries for help and I will have something in my email inbox that happened in the county I can use. Being able to form those relationships over the past six months has been such a help, and I am grateful for them.

For the first month and a half of the pandemic I filed my sports pages from an hour away in South Hill. There were a lot of phone calls and text messages, Facebook messages, emails and Twitter DM’s that happened during that month and a half to players, coaches, parents, family members and members of the community but with their help I was able to make it work.

Now here I sit six months later, COVID is still running rampant throughout the country. South Boston Speedway is still unable to open. Schools aren’t allowing any sort of practices until schools reopen. Even when they are allowed to practice we don’t know what the season will look like when it comes to spectators or any other information.

There are still so many unknowns when it comes to these things, and I have learned to just keep focusing on what I can control and continue to put out quality content that highlights the success, achievements and stories on the people of Halifax County.

One last personal note before I leave you today, after commuting an hour each way every day to work to and from South Hill, I will finally be becoming a Halifax County resident in October. I have wanted to move here for a while now and circumstances have now allowed me to be able to become a full time resident of the county, and I could not be more excited. I am looking forward to it for many reasons. It will be nice to not have to drive two hours round trip each day for work, and second it gives me the opportunity to get to know more people and establish more friendships and relationships with the people in Halifax County.

Until next time.

Johnathan Kirland is a sports writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him jkirkland@gazettevirginian.com. Follow him on Twitter @JohnathanK_GV