SLB photo

What the above title and sub-headline mean is that our weekly edition of Sports Looking Back that spotlights unforgettable teams and individuals from the Finger Lakes region has sadly come to an end...as you know it.

Sports Looking Back’s purpose was to help fill the void sports left as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. We had initially hoped it would give readers not only something significant to read over the weekend, but we also wanted the stories to induce a “remember when...” feeling of nostalgia that reminded players, coaches and fans of a time when sports seasons and historic championships went uninterrupted.

We went as far back as the late 1950’s and as recent as 2006, covering four counties, 10 schools, and 13 total stories. My colleague Nick Felice and I decided at the beginning that we would rotate the writing responsibilities each week so each Monday, myself or Nick would come into the office, find a team to spotlight and spend the entire day gathering research, contact information and photos to go with the story.

Occasionally, it involved a drive to Rochester to get nearly 30-year-old film photos developed. For every time we did that, the photos proved to be worth every mile.

Since the Finger Lakes Times hasn’t always been in color, the photos that we found in our archives were taken in color, but then put in black and white for the newspaper. For Clyde-Savannah’s 1993 state championship basketball season and Julie Donnelly’s Cross Country state title in 1992, those photos were printed in color for the first time ever.

It’s little things like that which made the feature so special. Another cool moment was when Ron Passalacqua dropped off the actual game box scores from DeSales’ 1974 baseball season. Seeing how every single inning went from their season that happened 46 years ago was truly something special.

We had planned to keep the feature going for as many weekends as we could. It seemed there was always another team, school or individual that deserved the spotlight once again.

Last week, the state government announced what we had been hoping for all summer: sports will be played in the fall. Albeit under far different circumstances than ever before, they will be back and we will be there to cover them.

As a result, we have to prepare for the upcoming season. That involves writing season previews for all the sports that are permitted to play. In the coming weeks, we plan to release preview stories for boys and girls soccer, boys and girls cross country, girls tennis and girls swimming. Those articles depend on when the state’s guidelines for practices, games and schedules are released, which is expected to be this Friday.

It is a bittersweet moment.

On one hand, sports are back and I couldn’t be happier. On the other, the epically long and winded articles recapping legendary seasons from back in the day come to an end...or do they?

The reception of Sports Looking Back was wonderful and it meant so much to us to hear all the joy and memories the stories carried with them. We couldn’t just drop it and walk away.

So, the decision was made to take the Sports Looking Back articles and put them into a special, one-time only magazine to house them all in one place.

Not only that, but when the magazine is released in late September, it will feature three original and exclusive articles that won’t be released in the newspaper.

As someone who did not grow up in the area, it was my honor to speak with the coaches and athletes that left a forever mark on the Finger Lakes sports scene. It was a chance for me to poke my head through the window of history in a place I’ve only lived in for six years and experience all the emotions that drive my undying love of sports.

Of course, I would have preferred a pandemic-free summer, but you deal with the cards you’re dealt, and what started as a way to fill pages on the Weekend Edition turned into a series of articles I will cherish for my entire life.

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