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Athletes Reflect on a Disappointing Winter But Look Forward to the Spring

Sophia Zhao ’23 Assistant Sports Editor
Athletics at Hopkins have been quieter than usual this year with health and safety guidelines leading to strict limitations on practices and a lack of interscholastic competition.
Connecticut experienced an increase in the number of cases in early November and the school transitioned to a fully virtual model, putting a pause on team practices. When Hopkins reopened in early December, Governor Ned Lamont had already announced that all team sports were going to be delayed, which was effective until January 19. All Varsity, JV, and Thirds team practices were suspended and transferred to a completely virtual model.

In order to accommodate these restrictions, Hopkins partnered with PTL4M, a training tool that allowed coaches to send workouts and training guides to their athletes. This app also hosts a library of over a thousand different exercises with written and video instructions taught by professional coaches that students can complete on their own. While this offered athletes a way to stay in shape and stay connected to their teams, many athletes expressed their disappointment. “I thought it was boring and it didn’t really have much to do with fencing since it was just workouts,” said Jackie Hsiao ’23. Many seniors decided to take the season off in order to avoid having to complete the workouts on PTL4M. Maeve Stauff ’21 said, “Like many of my friends, I wanted to do my own workouts instead of having to use PTL4M, so I took my season off.” On-campus athletics resumed on January 21, and the most recent update we have received was on February 5, allowing juniors and seniors on Varsity teams to attend practices on their off-campus week.

Fiona O’Brien ’21 expressed the positive and negative aspects of the basketball season: “It was tough entering the season half-way through when we would normally start playing. We only had a month and a half of practice but instead of practicing plays and scrimmaging, we focused on being together which was really fun. Although it was a more relaxed year, it was hard to see people in our league playing each other and us not.” Captain of Boys Basketball David Burton ’21 agrees: “I’m a little disappointed with the season. I kept looking at feeds of public schools and rival teams playing games against other teams while we were practicing against ourselves. However, I am still very grateful for the 3.2 years that Hopkins Basketball has given me.” Despite being disappointed, Mike Iaccarino ’21 remained positive: “The [basketball] team made the best out of a bad situation. We lifted each other up and pushed ourselves despite all the restrictions we had. I’m proud of the way everyone reacted to the difficulties we faced.”

Although the winter season might have been a bit of a letdown, the spring season shows much more promise, with Hopkins expected to return to a fully in-person mode on April 5, meaning that all athletes will be able to attend practice every day, instead of biweekly in the hybrid model. The current Connecticut state guidelines allow for low-to-moderate risk sports to hold practices and in-state competitions, and interstate competitions are allowed. Currently, participation in high-risk sports, aside from conditioning and non-contact drills, is prohibited, as well as larger, multi-team events. Rocco DeMaio, Director of Athletics, said that, at Hopkins, “All activities [are focused] on socially distanced individual skill development, conditioning and team-building before spring break.”

The state guidelines and Hopkins’ own approach will likely continue to adjust as the pandemic unfolds this spring. DeMaio said, “We will use a phased-in approach to establish and modify our practice and guidelines throughout this season. Health and safety will remain a top priority in our return to practice and play.” DeMaio explained. “Subsequent phases will introduce increased intensity and small-sided games, working towards inter-scholastic competition in mid-April. The Athletic Department will monitor state and national recommendations as we align with CIAC, NFHS and FAA guidelines.”

With the administration of vaccines and warmer weather coming, many students are hopeful for more practices and the possibility of playing games against other schools in the coming spring season. “After missing last year’s spring season entirely, I’m very excited to play my last year of baseball and I hope that we can play some real games this spring with increased vaccine rollout and better weather,” said Teddy Glover ’21. “It’s sad the winter season ended so quickly because it feels it just started. But, I’m very excited for the spring season as it looks like we might get a few league games in! Hopkins in the spring is by far the best time to be on campus, especially with everyone coming back,” added Dylan Matchett ’21. “I am really excited to get back on the field with the whole team.” Emma Maldon ’22 agreed: We have such an energetic and fun team that brings everyone together. I’m looking forward to the team camaraderie even if it does feel a little unusual. But, I’m definitely excited to get back to some normalcy and competition.”
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