Saints Athletes Navigate a Sports Season During a Pandemic
Sloane O’Connor ‘22 and Lucy Palma ‘23
Sports games are back and in full swing! Despite many changes to our lives in the past year, the level of competition in Saint’s athletics remains the same. Players and coaches alike are thrilled to experience the normalcy of playing competitively in school sports this spring.
Head Field Hockey Coach Jordan describes the feeling of watching her athletes play again, “the excitement on the field every day, it's amazing. I think that kind of knowledge and knowing that you don't have super long has made them, you know, bring the energy and the focus every single day, and it's been really fun to be a part of.” However, the return of fall sports and competition within those sports was not possible without a lot of preparation.
All student-athletes and their coaches get tested twice a week, once on Tuesday, and once on Thursday. Athletes are given a testing time and have to attend both testing sessions in order to participate in their sports practices and games for the week. So far the testing has gone smoothly, and no sports teams have had to stop practicing because of a positive test.
As for the actual practices and games, the teams are working to bring back old traditions while following the new guidelines set in place. Both the field hockey and girls soccer teams have carried on their families' traditions. This includes creating families of upperclassmen and underclassmen who support each other throughout the season and often get each other game days treats. However, all of the fall sports teams are having to make sacrifices and changes to their typical sports practices.
Field Hockey and soccer both have had to make some pretty significant changes this year. From masked practices to changes in typical practice schedules, Saints field hockey and soccer players have been through it all. When discussing mask usage during practices and games, senior soccer goalie Emily Smith describes the challenges, “it is more difficult to communicate while playing.” Smith is disappointed that she is unable to play “some of our rival schools and competing in the state and ISL championships,” however, she is trying “to make the best of what we have and focus on each opportunity to play in games.” This same feeling of making the best out of this shortened season is reflected throughout the two teams, and they are still working just as hard as ever. Music is still blasting before games, and the teams are focusing on what they can control on the field during games and in practice.
Another sport that has seen larger changes than most this year is football. Practices this year for football have seen a change in what the athletes wear, eliminating pads as they don’t want people in the locker room and also due to the fact that pads contain a person’s bodily fluids, making it a possible place where transmission germs could occur. Another change for the football team this season is their games; this year the team will be competing every weekend against other schools but only 7 on 7 rather than the usual 11 on 11. Regardless, the players are happy to be playing. This joy and excitement for the game is captured by junior running back Chris Lewis. When asked his opinion on this years shortened season Lewis replied, “Although we don’t get to play 11 on 11 or have a ton of games we still get to play, which is better than nothing, and I still get the chance to look forward every day to practice with my friends and teammates. The only negative thing to this is that the seniors don’t get a chance to play out their final season that they have been waiting for.”
Another sport that has had to make changes due to Covid-19 and the shortened season is boy’s soccer. This season the boy’s soccer team practices every day either on the grass field, Kelleher, or the middle school turf field. During practice, the players have to wear a mask, and drills are more spread out. This season they will be playing two games on the 6th and 13th of March. Despite the limited number of games and practices that are different from normal, the players are still happy to be competing. Junior Will Gillette describes the season for him, “Even though things are different than what we are used to we are still happy to be out there. I am really looking forward to the season and a great year to develop and grow with the team.”
Through numerous student and coach voices, it has become clear that the positives outweigh the negatives this year, and everyone is excited to experience some normal, in the chaos of this past year.