The calendar has flipped to May here in the Lowco, and that means one thing: championship season.
After weeks of hard work and preparation starting all the way back in the dying days of winter, the time has come to see our student-athletes achieve their dreams, the dreams that were deferred after last spring was suddenly cut short. Winning a state championship any year is an incredible feeling, but for this year’s victors, it has meant even more.
Three Lowcountry teams have already experienced the elation of reaching the top of the mountain. After losing the opportunity in 2020, Hilton Head Christian Academy girls soccer got the job done on Saturday, earning a 3-0 win to claim an extra-special SCISA 2A state title. A night earlier, Holy Trinity Classical Christian School of Beaufort swept the SCISA 1A soccer titles — the second straight for the girls, who also won in 2019.
After the final whistle, buzzer, or out went in the books a little over a year ago, we really didn’t know when the next action would be. Now, incredibly, we are nearing the end of a full 2020-21 athletic season. We’ve seen our local teams give it their all even more this year than ever before, and many were rewarded with unforgettable postseason runs. There’s been nothing better during my time here than covering state championship victories, and in honor of a tremendous sports season and the Eagles’ and Mighty Lions’ soccer triumphs, I want to share my favorite memories of witnessing these amazing championship moments.
There’s nothing like walking into the stadium or arena of a state finals venue and seeing the anticipation and excitement on the sidelines, in the locker rooms, and all across the student sections. It’s the game these teams have worked incredibly hard to get to all season long, and the feelings and jitters before go time are like none other.
Then there are all the storylines that make these events mean even more. From Beaufort Academy’s volleyball victory after a teammate’s passing, Hilton Head Christian Academy’s girls basketball dynasty, and Hilton Head High’s former star returning to coach his squad to glory, every championship game presents its own unique tale. As a sports journalist, those stories are what we live for.
The “thrill of victory and agony of defeat” has been a phrase tossed around for decades, but it perfectly represents the range of emotions of these high-stakes state titles. I’ve seen some of our teams accomplish unbelievable wins, but unfortunately we sometimes see the other side happen to our squads. For the teams that get the job done, there’s nothing better than witnessing our own accomplish the goals they set out on for months, years, and lifetimes. They dream of these moments as young kids, and seeing the aspirations turn into reality is the absolute best part of what we do.
JP Peduzzi was just a little boy playing in the fields watching his father, and after a decade and change later, he’s on his dad’s shoulders again celebrating a title of his own. Skylar Smith practiced her shot for years and envisioned her big moment. On a Saturday afternoon in Sumter, she seized the opportunity in the final seconds to deliver an incredible victory. The final game is a culmination of years of early morning workouts, mid-day film sessions, and grueling afternoon practices. When it all pays off as the nets are cut and the medals are handed out, there’s no better feeling as a student-athlete.
That’s why this year has meant so much to me and these kids. After a spring and summer with unending uncertainty, it’s been amazing to see the opportunities come back for our Lowco stars who have given it all to earn these moments. There’s truly nothing like the second when dreams become reality, and there’s no doubt we’ll see many more come true in the months and years to come.
By Wes Kerr