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Benched by COVID

By Maddie Sepcaru

On August 26th, 2020, Nassau County school superintendents came together and voted to postpone high school sports until January 2021. Just two days prior, Governor Andrew Cuomo had given the go-ahead for fall sports to start on September 21st. Lower risk sports such as soccer, field hockey, cross country, tennis, and swimming would have been allowed to start their seasons, but higher-risk sports such as football and volleyball would have only been allowed to start practices. Suffolk County later followed suit on September 11th. This decision has caused animosity from parents and students alike. 

Artwork by Shadia Zayer

Football, volleyball, and track stars, among other athletes, have had their season postponed.

Many student-athletes were confused and in disbelief when Nassau County announced the new sports season schedule for 2021. The winter season will be the first to start on January 4, 2021, and will end on February 26th. That only gives athletes a weekend before going into the fall sports season on March 1st. If that is not stressful enough, the fall season ends on Wednesday, April 18th and the spring season begins the very next day on April 19th. There have been concerns about whether the short amount of time to prepare would leave athletes more prone to injury. 

“There are always health and safety concerns for athletes when it comes to athletics. But since athletes have limited access to training and participating, there’s a little more concern. Coaches will begin meeting with their teams via Google Meets. Their coaches will give training tips, plans, and preparation plans for their respective seasons. As of now, no plan is in place for streaming games. Like everything we are still waiting for guidance on whether spectators will be allowed and how many. If it’s very limited, we will do our best to get the games broadcasted. But that involves workers, budgeting, and internet access. There are many factors involved,” said NHP athletic director Mr. Burke. 

While the possibility of not playing sports this year saddens all athletes, it would be especially difficult for this year’s seniors. 

Sources from @nhpxctrackandfield and Anna Detke

From top to bottom, the vigorous training schedule of the cross country athletes and a Google Meet between the members of the girls volleyball team display students' enthusiasm to get back on the field.

“This news would kill me but I believe we are going to come out of this virus strong and have a happy and healthy second half of the school year filled with lots of sports and fun. If it came to sports being canceled I guess there’s nothing I can do besides keep on working to better myself and prepare myself for the next step in life - college,” said senior football and baseball player Luke Orbon. 

All senior athletes are holding their breath, hoping that they will be able to suit up in a gladiator’s uniform one last time.

“Playing sports is everything to me, but not as much as being a part of a team. During the season, I am always looking forward to practices, games, and just spending time around my teammates, who truly are family to me. We stick together, pick each other up, and we smile through it all. Playing sports is my escape from my crazy schedule. It helps to clear my mind and get in the zone while having fun with my teammates. The values it has taught me are impossible to find doing anything else; I wouldn’t give up sports for anything,” said senior field hockey player Emily Locker. 

Even though fall sports are not starting until the spring, Google Classrooms have been set up for each team. On Monday, October 5th, 2020, Mr. Burke emailed students the Google Classroom codes for their fall teams. Coach Brocking, who leads the varsity field hockey team, spoke about how she feels this will help her team.

We stick together, pick each other up, and we smile through it all...

“It’s a start and will help. The classroom is a great way to communicate with the athletes. Important information can be posted there which will only give the players opportunities to get better in some way. The classroom offers coaches the ability to post workouts, post-game planning, and strategies, along with being able to see each other virtually in a meet. At the end of the day, things are still unknown. We have to hope that the seasons will still happen when the County says that they will. As athletes and coaches, we are putting a lot of faith into that. Coaches are also counting on players to hold themselves accountable. We hope that the athletes are still running or playing in some way, keeping their skills ready. When there is a season, the difference between us and our opponent will be which players/teams are ready to physically play. Technology or not, you still need good “ole fashion” running to compete,” said Coach Brocking.

Organizing the team on Google Classrooms is a big step in getting back to sports. But for now, NHP athletes are crossing their fingers, hoping that there will be sports in 2021. 


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