The pandemic was a sudden event that dramatically changed the lives of WHSl students. One of the biggest adjustments came in the area of athletics, as seasons were cancelled or postponed, starting in spring and stretching all the way into fall.
Now, athletic programs are slowly being allowed to commence, though each sport and individual team is at a different place when it comes to practices, amount of restrictions and when they seek to start their season. As of the week of Oct. 13, the county has moved into phase 2 when it comes to sports. Teams are slowly being allowed to rejoin as groups of up to 50, a big upgrade from being confined to groups of ten only a week earlier.
“I think going slow and steady versus going fast and aggressive is the way to go,” said athletic director Brad Katz. “I think we have done a good job… to ensure our athletes are safe.”
The different teams in the district have remained in near constant contact via their athletic directors in an attempt to let back athletic programs at the same rate. During Phase 1, they were required to hold zoom classes to replicate in-person practices.
“We [had] a PE Zoom class [and] during the class generally we have a returning player go through some exercises that they like, demonstrate it and the class does it with them.” said girls volleyball coach Ernest Rittenhouse. “So far phase one has only been outdoors in small pods of ten, and that doesn’t serve us much purpose.”
As of now, volleyball has their first contest set for Dec. 22, and their season will go until Feb. 17. With the season approaching, it will be crucial for them to return to form.
“A month after COVID started we tried to get back into it and we were all super rusty” said block leader Cashe Olswang ‘22. “I’m scared it’s going to happen again once we [start] the season.”
Along with volleyball, field hockey tried to figure out what they should do during this dead period. The field hockey coach, Allison Jarman, tried to use her Zoom times to review skills that wouldn’t usually be covered and can be done at home.
“I think [the athletes] are handling it as best they can given the circumstances,” said Jarman. “We’d much rather be on the field, but they come to [Zooms] with a good attitude and that’s all we can ask for.”
The athletes themselves are all in different places when it came to adapting to online practice. However, all of them felt the effect of the virus’ restrictions on their game.
“[The restrictions] allowed us to become a little more vulnerable, with each other and our frustrations during the virus,” said field hockey athlete Maya Tjan ‘22. “I think that we’ve built a stronger team dynamic than we usually have starting the school year.”
With fall sports finally making the transition to larger groups, teams have been split between being able to return and continuing to have to wait. For volleyball, not much has changed for them during Phase 2.
“We are not yet allowed to play in the gym with the ball yet,” said Rittenhouse. “We must wait until Phase 3.”
However, for field hockey, the transition is beginning to be made back to a modified in person practice.
“I think as of next Monday we can start practicing with equipment like the goals and our sticks,” said Tjan.
During the coronavirus break fall sports made due with the little contact they had had to maintain a team bond. Recently faced with another change, they adapted yet again to a completely different system.
“Just like [for] students in their classes, there are a lot of unknowns for athletics and what that looks like,” said Katz. “We are being very flexible, telling coaches to be patient and to be understanding because we are all in this together.”