Dealing with a tumultuous year in 2020 has forced a lots of adaptation.

Behind all of the frustrations, disappointments, anxieties and disruptions have been valuable lessons — if only everyone is smart enough to find them.

That has definitely been the case for Utah Valley high school athletes, who have had to face plenty of challenges beyond just what they face in the normal course of competition as the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted just about everything.

But they have done it.

It has rarely been straightforward and certainly not been easy, but the boys and girls, coaches and administrators have found ways to navigate through the obstacles that have been in their way.

This holiday season is a time of hope, a time to look toward the future.

So here is a list of wishes for all of those participants as they get ready for a great 2021:

Moments to enjoy

It’s been one of the most oft-repeated refrains of the year as players and coaches have talked constantly about enjoying every moment.

From the last spring sports games before everything shut down to the cobbled together contests in June to the uncertainty of the fall and winter, everyone had to make the most of what they had.

This pandemic has taught everyone that — regardless of outcome — doing what you love is precious and should be treasured because you do not know for certain if it will be taken away.

This wish is that everyone will continue to remember that lesson for years to come.

Unifying experiences

So often the world is portrayed as being divided by different qualifiers. If a team lets itself be divided, however, it is almost certainly doomed to fail.

Instead players and coaches have to focus on shared goals and the importance of common ground. Each individual on a team brings their own strengths and weaknesses to the table but together they can be so much stronger.

Stressful situations force teams to rely even more on each other, a lesson hopefully these athletes will carry into their homes and communities throughout their lives.

Valuable sacrifices

When the state of Utah started testing high school football players in preparation for the state semifinals, it was thought that the rate of positive COVID-19 tests would likely be 25% or more. Instead it was closer to 3%.

While that may surprise some, anyone who has been around high school athletes know they understand the value of making sacrifices to achieve bigger goals. They were willing to take the steps to limit their risks with the virus and were rewarded by playing their games.

On the other hand, one of the biggest sacrifices was made by all of the spring sports participants as they gave up their season for the good of their community. No, that wasn’t what they wanted but their sacrifice was tremendously valuable.

Hopefully all of the athletes have realized that giving up something good for something better is something that will benefit them throughout their entire lives.

Appreciation for relationships

In a time when players have been separated because of shutdowns and quarantines, they have had to turn to their teammates for their support system.

Some gathered on car tailgates in parking lots while socially distanced, while others put together text message groups or found other ways to communicate.

Players need to be able to rely on those around them when things get tough and this wish is hoping they never forget to have a support base and to be a part of the support base of others.

Hope for the future

It’s so easy to get down after a loss or after a tough year. Sometimes the negatives feel overwhelming.

But one of the most important lessons that sports teaches is resiliency. There will be another game, another opportunity, something else to work for, a reason to keep pushing to improve.

After a year that has demanded as much as 2020 demanded of Utah Valley student-athletes, the importance of hope for 2021 and beyond is impossible to quantify.

This final wish is that the players, coaches, administrators, officials, parents and fans will be able to tap into that hope during this holiday season, that they will be able to keep their eyes looking forward to the great things that are to come.

Happy Holidays!

Daily Herald sports reporter Jared Lloyd can be reached at 801-344-2555 or Twitter: @JaredrLloyd. Instagram: @JaredrLloyd.

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