By Scarlett Beard ’22
Young athletes nationwide could not have expected the spring season to be over before it even began. No one could have known sports teams would not meet again in person following spring break.
In the face of this common dilemma, how did different New York City schools approach spring sports? How did different sports and teams adapt to the situation? Teams needed to reconstruct their foundation overnight in order to adhere to the stay-at-home orders.
Ella Carter ’22, a rising Junior on the softball team at Poly Prep Country Day School, explained that Softball ended abruptly a week before a scheduled trip to Florida. Once students realized that all their spring trips would be canceled, team morale decreased and coaches had to find new ways to bring the team together. Given the unprecedented start to the spring season, coaches and teams had a lot of tough decisions to make. Teams needed to completely alter their routines to adhere to fit within quarantine. The coaches had to think of innovative ways to maintain unified and keep a rigorous schedule. They also assumed responsibility for keeping the athletes in shape and helping them stay active and mentally healthy during the pandemic.
Each NYC school had a unique response to organizing new digital norms. Some schools simply had Zoom calls to congratulate and say goodbye to seniors, whereas others offered a full range of sports enrichment activities online for students to do independently. For example, sending workouts or doing them live together over Zoom.
One perk of quarantine was that guest speakers were invited to converse with teams.
Josh Underberg ’21, a student from Horace Mann School, had a positive experience on the Varsity Baseball team. “[We] got Harrison Bader on some of the Zooms. He is a Horace Mann alumnus who currently plays for the St. Louis Cardinals.”
Many enrichment opportunities were offered for teams to learn and give back to their communities. A lacrosse player at the Trinity School, Lorenzo Vogliano ’22, said, “We wrote letters to senior citizens, surgeons, and people who work in hospitals. We also had guest speakers come talk to us weekly and did workout challenges.” This difficult time was a chance to look inward and develop great citizenship qualities and self-talk that are proven benefits in athletics.
Private schools such as Poly Prep, Horace Mann, Trinity, and Spence took the initiative to maintain all in-season sports to the best of their abilities. Their spring seasons included baseball, lacrosse, track & field, boys volleyball, softball, ultimate frisbee, tennis, golf, and more.
Poly Prep even chose to invite out-of-season athletes to participate in morale-building competitions against different teams and different schools. For example, Poly had “the 400 challenge,” in which the football team did a competition with Harvard Westlake where they competed in competitive physical fitness. This both inspired team spirit and kept students engaged in the competitive side of sports.
Although the cancellation of the season was upsetting for spring athletes, all schools strove to maintain relationships within sports teams. Students were offered social and athletic opportunities to get through the mandated social distancing orders. Remote learning presented significant mental and physical health challenges for students, and this led sports teams to step up like never before and provide both comfort and a sense of community–all through a screen.