Back at the start of 2020, no one could have predicted how the year would pan out. Now, a year later we are still facing the consequences of 2020’s events. One of the many things that have been affected by the Coronavirus was this year’s Winter Sports Season. For a while, it seemed like there might not even be a Winter Sports Season this year. Fortunately, there is, but there have been a lot of changes made for this year’s season. A lot of new guidelines have been put in place, and while people seem to be relieved to be back competing, things are also very different compared to last year.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many guidelines have been put in place to prevent the spread of the virus. For example, everyone is now required to wear a mask while at practice and has to try and keep six feet away from one another at all times. These guidelines have been relatively easy to follow for most students. Taylor Otremba, a member of the Lakeville South Hockey Team, states ”It hasn’t been difficult, but it’s a change and we are doing everything we can to stay playing”. On the other hand, some students disagree. A member of the Gymnastics Team Jadyn Krull states “Following the guidelines for COVID-19 has been a little difficult for my winter sport. Wearing a mask after doing a floor routine is difficult due to the high intensity of gymnastics. Other protocols, such as social distancing, are also tough because we are all close friends and love to socialize”. While students seem to disagree on how hard it is to follow the guidelines, it’s safe to say that students are at least very happy to be back together and practicing with each other.
Although some sports have not been able to compete or practice quite like they usually do, it has been nice to have after-school activities this winter season. When asked if it was worth it to be practicing, even with all the guidelines in place, Sarah Student, a member of the Colour Guard Team, responded “Yeah, I’d say it’s worth it”. Not just Sarah, but many other students agree that it is positively amazing to have sports up and running again. Catherine Lynch, another Colour Guard member, also states “I think afterschool sports starting up again is exciting for everyone”. After months of being stuck inside doing distance learning sports and with the recent bout of nice weather, sports have been a great way for students to get off their computer screens and out of their homes. Lakeville South has an extremely positive and active student body that always triumphs even when they get thrown for a loop.
Practices are a lot different this year in comparison to previous years. This is, of course, due to the Coronavirus pandemic that started back in January of 2020. When the virus first started to pick up speed, many sports seasons ended prematurely or got canceled before they even started. Now that the spread of the virus has been declining, sports are back but they aren’t the same as usual. Jadyn Krull also explains,“Differences in practice this year have been tough. Usually, we all share snacks, give high-fives, and talk a lot. This year we can’t share anything. We have to avoid high fives or fist bumps, and talking can be difficult because it’s hard to hear through the masks”. Another notable difference between this year and previous years is that some teams like the Lakeville South Girls Hockey Team have been holding practices without having any games to prepare for. However, some students find that the changes don’t bother them all that much. For example, Theresa Lynch from the Colour Guard Team states,“There are not many changes except for the masks and having to stay apart”. Overall, students are enjoying practicing, even with the difficulties they face.
This year has been extremely different overall and even the coaches are noticing it. Colour Guard coach, Melissa Nielsen stated,“One moment that has been especially meaningful to me was at our first practice when we did introductions. I asked students to share one thing that they’ve learned in the last year, thinking most students would share random facts or talents they’d picked up during the shut down. But what I heard made me pause as I realized that students have experienced a life changing event that my generation didn’t really have. Students shared about how they learned to value people and relationships over things. They shared that they learned to never take school for granted, and that they realized that every rehearsal was a gift. Throughout this season, I’ve witnessed students working harder than ever before, asking us to push them to grow and gain skills that we never anticipated to teach this year. Our show, premiering this weekend, is definitely a reflection of this attitude of hard work and living in the moment – never wasting an opportunity to grow. That work ethic and resilience is hard to teach, and I’ve learned more from watching my students handle this pandemic with such grace and maturity. No matter how this season turns out, it will be unforgettable, and not just because of the pandemic. Every rehearsal shows me that our students are ready to take the lead in our society, and I’ve never had more hope for the future than I do watching these students grow”. These changes have been rough but students have really been able to grow because of them.
While things are not what they used to be before the pandemic, students have still been able to experience something close to normalcy through the return of the Winter Sports Program. Although there may be guidelines and they may be hard to get used to, sports are still integral to student life. Whether someone is a senior or freshman, it is good to be back.