By Ivie Li
The wait is finally over: NHP student-athletes are cleared to start their winter season. Since January 4, 2021, winter sports such as gymnastics, bowling, winter track, and even high-risk sports like basketball and wrestling have been permitted to practice. Of course, not everything will be completely back to normal, but with a 47 day season ahead of them, coaches and athletes alike are excited to meet again as a team after nearly a year.
“Our season is going well so far. Our goal this year is to win, have fun, and, more than anything else, stay healthy! We are just happy to be back in the gym,” said varsity gymnastics coach Ms. Wichard.
“...with a 47 day season ahead of them, coaches and athletes alike are excited to meet again as a team after nearly a year...”
“With COVID, it has been really hard to keep a normal season, but our team is trying to keep it as normal as possible. We have to stay away from each other, and the custodians clean the mats after practice before we put them away. The thing I am most looking forward to is going to the meets; despite COVID being around, I still get to watch everyone compete,” said sophomore gymnast Dora Alfieri.
Safety is the number one priority of this season. There are numerous protocols for different sports to ensure that athletes maintain their distance while still being able to perform at their best.
“All of our gymnasts always wear their masks in the gym. We have arranged our tumbling lines to alternate mats and tumble in different directions,” said Coach Wichard.
Sources by Saanvi Mirchandani
H. Frank Carey senior Kristen Greenwood practices on the beam before a meet; HFC junior Alyssa Nittoli flies through the air on vault; NHP sophomore Dora Alfieri poses with NHP freshman Olivia Battista before heading into the gym to compete.
Track meets have turned virtual as well. With only the NHP team on the track and no audience, meets are much quieter. However, teammates cheer each other on, ensuring that the team spirit is still alive.
“Wearing a mask is definitely annoying and took some time getting used to, but, after a while, it is not that bad and is obviously helpful at ensuring we’re all safe. Honestly, it’s a bit weird, but I don’t mind. It puts less pressure on you when you’re racing, and you barely notice the audience when you’re normally racing anyways,” said track junior Allison Corcoran.
“While it is not the worst thing in the world, it does get hard to breathe, since you aren’t getting the maximum amount of oxygen that you normally get without a mask. I think the best part about it is that it keeps your face warm while it is freezing cold outside,” said track sophomore Mirolla Mekaiel.
Source by Olivia Wong
Sophomores Jake Chew, Luke Jacobs, and Shawn Carlson smile behind their masks to show that they are still enjoying practice; for meets, only 1-3 people are allowed to run on the track at a time, like sophomore Luke Jacobs; right after a meet, Coach DelSanto and Coach Leydon pose for a picture with the track team on the field; junior Ivie Li and senior Ashley Predvil are on the track team, pushing through the difficulties of running with a mask on.
Every practice, hybrid and remote athletes must show their COVID-19 self-assessment results in order to enter the building, similar to regular school days. In addition to having no access to the locker rooms, athletes are separated into small pods to limit the risk of exposure.
“There aren’t many people on the team to begin with. We also run outside most of the time, so we really are being as safe as we possibly can be,” said Mekaiel.
When competing, COVID-19 precautions separate teams even more.
“COVID hasn’t really changed bowling that much in my opinion, other than the dividers and masks, but the greatest difference is that we can’t really mingle with other teams that we are competing against,” said junior bowler Briana Dunn.
Source by Andrew Canese
Junior Laurence Lai, freshman Alex Tiwari, junior Eily Montenegro, and junior Samantha Chang practice shooting for upcoming meets during the season.
“I’m really glad that we were able to have a season even though there were some adjustments this year. Even though it’s an individual sport, we have a really close knit team and Coach Babs has done an awesome job for his first year leading our team through a nearly undefeated season. Riflery has taught me a lot for example, being able to have enduring patience and concentration and maintaining a positive attitude. I’m glad I was able reflect personal growth this season through my scores and overall mentality when faced with a challenge,” said junior riflery member Samantha Chang.
With students being able to come back full time, the regular fall and spring season sports are in full swing. Despite its challenges, NHP student athletes and coaches are looking forward to playing during this “new normal.”