Covid’s Impact on Students who Play Club Sports
By: Adair Edwards
Students at SSSAS play sports both in school and outside for club teams. School sports have been affected by COVID because all of the seasons are split up into five-week sessions and all pre-season and summer practices were cancelled. Club sports on the other hand have continued to practice and play with added precautions due to COVID.
After sending out a Google Form to SSSAS students, 49 students responded. Out of those 49 responses, 44 students confirmed they played a club sport. From these results, club lacrosse was the most popular among upper school students with twelve students playing. A close second was club soccer with eleven students participating. Additional club sports that were popular among students were basketball, ice hockey, gymnastics, and volleyball.
Freshman, Ellie Foresman, plays club lacrosse for the Capital Lacrosse Club. During our interview, Ellie confirmed that COVID has impacted games and practices for club lacrosse. First, all players have to complete a COVID form and a temperature check. Ellie stated that all players have to wear a mask until they get on the field and begin practice. Players are able to take off masks once they begin playing. “When you’re playing, it’s kind of normal,” Ellie said. There are a few rules that have changed though with COVID. Ellie confirmed that players are not allowed to touch the ball during the game, “you can pick it up with your stick and give it to the ref but you can’t touch it with your hands.” Club sports gave Ellie the opportunity to continue to practice lacrosse during a difficult time.
Junior Sophia Southhall is also playing club sports during the pandemic. Sophia plays club soccer in Arlington, and practices weeknights from 7:30-9:00 pm. Sophia also stated how rules and procedures have changed. For example, Sophia and her teammates are not able to sit together on a bench. Instead, players have to bring their own chairs and sit six feet apart. Sophia also had to get tested at the start of the season and wears a mask. Sophia used time during COVID to run and improve her game. Although, Sophia said, “you always have that thought in the back of your head, it’s like what if this person is sick and I didn’t know.” Sophia will start his club season in February.
Senior Soccer player Kyle Burbage who is a recent Wesleyan College commit elaborated on how the pandemic has affected his club soccer season: “For club we started off like most teams, six feet apart and wearing masks. Then, after about a month I’d say, we went full contact. Right now, we have pretty much zero protocols for my club sport.” He also stated how the only protocols established are “wearing masks on the sideline” which he stated are “rarely enforced” and “cancelling games if a player contracted the virus.”
The biggest impact has been off the field (water breaks, pre and post games). However, club sports have given students an opportunity to play while school sports are suspended. At Saint Stephen’s and Saint Agnes School sports are an important part of the community. In response to the rising COVID case numbers locally and nationally, Upper School Athletic Directors Coach Koroma and Coach Walrich sent an email to students and families stating how the Independent School League (ISL) and the Interstate Athletic Conference (IAC) will not sponsor “competition for winter sports in January in either league.” With a plan moving forward, the athletic directors emphasized how “We will continue with winter sports team practices when we return in January and hope to provide additional opportunities for our athletes to train in this next seven week period. We hope to explore opportunities for competition in February should health conditions allow.”