Competition Continues with Masks and No Contact 

By: Nico Corica ‘21 and Mollie Kemp ‘23

COVID has impacted all aspects of our school life, and the esteemed SSSAS athletics program is no exception. Football games with large cheering crowds are now an impossibility. But that doesn’t mean the athletes stop training. Shortened into five week programs, each sport has been separated into two groups and tasked with the requirements to wear a mask at all times and stay ten feet apart. With hopes of returning to games in the spring, teams train toward future competition. 


In the 1-2 hour sessions that occur 2-3 times per week, coaches have been forced to adapt to the no-contact rule that heavily affects most sports. Coach Jordan, the girls field hockey coach, explains the complications of the restrictions, “It's a lot different, it takes a lot more planning because you have to think about not only do people have to be spaced during a drill, but while they're waiting in line for a drill, or when you bring everyone in just to talk about what you're going to do next. It's all those in between moments that people need to be spaced out too.”


On the other hand, Coach LaFever, the cross country coach, illustrates the difficulties even a non-contact sport is experiencing. “I feel like the best part of running is running while talking to other people. And it was really hard to do that when people were super spaced out and couldn't hear each other. Or people would try to talk and we'd notice congregating and it was like, you’ve gotta move away.” However, with the shift to a new practice format Coach Lafever states that not all changes have been for the worse. “In the past we've had a lot of people with shin splints and hip injuries, but this time around we probably did less running. But we did a lot more hip strengthening and little muscle strengthening. So I think that just really made everyone healthier, and happier in the long run.”


Concerning the mask and no contact rules, junior lacrosse player Amelia Duncan explains the struggles those restrictions create on practices. “For lacrosse, I'm a defender. So it's definitely made things a lot harder because the attack can do shooting and dodging. But for defense, the only real thing we can do is footwork, so it's definitely affected how much practice we get with actually playing our real position.”


Continuing on the topic about practice, Colin Donovan, a senior lacrosse player explains how team morale has changed over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Being unsure if a season will even be possible has weakened morale, and he explained how players need more motivation. Coaches have been aiding that by making practice fun and enjoyable, they are doing this by incorporating new drills, team building drills, and much more. While at the same time working on fundamental stick skills and adding in conditioning. Colin believes that the lacrosse coaches understand this is a high-stress environment, and are handling the new challenges appropriately.


Like many athletes at SSSAS, Colin participates in the 5-week training sessions along with hockey practices outside of school. He explains that at hockey practice there is contact and he doesn't wear a mask; practice outside of school feels like a normal season. When asked about the precautions put in place at SSSAS, Colin explains that he thinks contact should be allowed, but masks should be worn. When asked about drills being affected, he talks about how the team can’t scrimmage anymore due to the rules in place, also how there is a lot more conditioning and new drills that respect the social distancing rules.


William Beckorn, a senior who has participated in the strength and conditioning, along with the lacrosse 5-week training sessions shares his thoughts on sports at SSSAS. He explains how changing practice to be split between a defensive and offensive group has helped keep players socially distanced and safe during these times. While at the same time it affects vital drills like defense versus offense. He also thinks the coaches are handling the new rules well, although he would like to make practice semi-contact, but keep masks on 100% of the time. Although having any form of contact would be nice, during regular practice, people are socially distanced, from getting water to participating in a drill.


Amelia Duncan also attests to the difficulty of wearing the mask while playing. “It kind of sucks. But yeah, I'm gonna be honest, it's hard, especially when we're conditioning. But also I want everyone to be safe and healthy. So I understand why it's necessary, but it’s definitely, definitely hard to breathe.”


Coach Jordan sums up, “I think, with everything right now, you just kind of have to take it in stride. We have a large group of seniors this year. And a lot of them have been with the program for a long time, so I'm really hopeful that they'll get a chance to play. Just because I feel like they’ve waited for this moment to have their senior season. So I hope that they get that, but I was really happy with our training session and there's a lot of enthusiasm, and I thought that we definitely were able to show a lot of growth in just five weeks.”