Schreiber athletes participate in first sport practices of the season

Sam Kassan, Contributing Writer

With COVID-19 still running rampant across the United States, it seemed unlikely that school sports would take place.  After an initial postponement, it was a longshot at best that a single team would gather for practice..  Many people thought Schreiber would be fully virtual by December.  However, due to the extensive precautions taken by Schreiber, several sports teams have finally been able to start their seasons.

Unfortunately, not all sports are allowed to compete, such as boys and girls basketball, wrestling, and competitive cheer.  While these are notable losses, the fact that even a single team can practice is a victory in these trying times.  

Although the teams are able to practice, it is under very different circumstances.  In order to comply with COVID regulations, tryouts and practices are drastically different than they were last year.  

For the boys winter track team, it was clear from the very beginning that this would be a season like no other.  For starters, the roster size noticeably decreased, cut down to a little more than half of the size of last year’s team.

Before practice even begins, students must fill out a google form sheet every day clearing them for practice.  If it is not completed by 2 p.m., the student is not able to participate in practice that day – no exceptions.  Athletes meet outside at the bleachers everyday after school, and virtual students must find a way to get to the track.  Also, masks are worn at all times during practice unless the runners are spaced  six feet apart.  One might think that with all the distancing, the several virtual practices, and constant mask-wearing that the team might not be as tight-knit as in years past, but the opposite is true.  

“I feel that the team is closer and stronger than we have been in previous years.  We are very fortunate that we have the privilege to practice and train as a team and everyone is grateful for that,” said sophomore sprinter Joseph Green. 

Just practicing isn’t enough for the student athletes.  Even though the team isn’t allowed to travel to the usual indoor facility for their meets, they have still found a way to compete.  The team will compete in several virtual meets.  An official comes and times the athletes at our outdoor track and then the times are compared to other schools doing the same thing.  Virtual track meets are far from perfect, but the athletes will take any opportunity they have to go against other towns and prove their abilities.

 “We are all extremely excited for our first meet.  We have been putting in work every day and are glad we can showcase it.  It may not feel the same as a normal meet, but just a few months ago we were unsure whether we would even be allowed to practice, so we will take what we can get.  I have high expectations for this team and hope there will be many more meets to come,” said sophomore distance runner Joseph Asselta.  

With a shortened season, every team member is grateful for each day they are out on the track together.  Girls gymnastics has also successfully started, and they are no less cautious than the track runners.  Gymnastics has to be done inside, but the strict rules more than make up for the inside setting.  Whenever they aren’t warming up or doing their routines, masks are worn, and they must stay six feet away from each other at all times.  

Also, they have to sanitize their hands before and after touching equipment, and all of the equipment gets sanitized after each practice.  Unlike winter track, gymnastics has the luxury of in person meets, although extensive spacing and sanitization keeps the opposing gymnasts safely apart from our own.  Fortunately, the majority of their meets are at home, so there is less risk of being exposed at another school. 

 “I’m so excited to actually have a season through these hard times because it makes me feel like everything is a little more normal when I’m back at the gym.  I expect our team to do the best we can at all of our meets and just have fun overall,” said sophomore Riley Vulpis.  

The protocols aren’t easy, but the girls are more than willing to put up with them if it means doing what they love.

 

Maybe we should have a different picture, considering the article is talking about track and gymnastics.