By Ansley Skipper
With the decision to reopen school for the fall semester came the decision to continue with the fall sports season, bringing, needless to say, a few changes (and challenges) for athletes, parents, coaches and administrators.
“Honestly, the biggest challenge for me as an administrator is trying to, I guess, change the expectations of the parents and the girls really,” said St. Mary’s assistant athletic director Casey Crenny.
Crenny cited limits on the number of spectators allowed at athletic events as one of the changes parents and athletes are adapting to. Only the immediate families of athletes may attend volleyball and soccer games, and just one parent per athlete is allowed to attend cross country meets.
Senior soccer athlete Sydney Graeter (12) said, “[Playing] with a limited crowd of spectators, sometimes it is hard to feel motivated for games because there aren’t many people there to cheer us on.”
Another changing expectation involves athletic traditions.
Crenny said, “Right now we're dealing with how are we going to do senior nights? I mean, it’s a big deal for these girls. . . I understand it. But we can't have, you know, the parties, we can't have the food, we can't have the big ordeal.”
For athletes, this season feels different than most. “The thing that feels most different about cross country this year is the constant sense of this pandemic. We have to constantly be thinking about staying distanced and wearing masks, whereas before we just focused on running and staying strong,” said cross country athlete Anna Douglas Piper (10).
Students and administrators are aware of the risks of continuing to play sports during the pandemic. Crenny said, “We're only going to play the schools that adhere to what our standards are. And luckily . . . the whole conference got together, and we all agreed on that.”
In addition, the conference and schools are following strict testing, tracing and quarantine guidelines that shut down programs that have been in contact with a positive case. This makes scheduling unpredictable as a team may have to shut down for a two-week period during which they were supposed to play St. Mary’s.
Despite the risks, inconveniences and disappointments of playing sports during the coronavirus pandemic, the athletic department and athletes themselves are grateful to be able to play.
Graeter said, “I think soccer is different this year because we are trying to make the most of every minute we get on the field and with our team since we know it could be taken away at any moment, and it could be the last time for some of us to play soccer.”
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