As we move into the middle of the spring season, I am pleased to report that all sports are up and running at this time. The spring sports include lacrosse, track, softball, baseball, golf, and tennis. Spring marks the first season that we have been able to run full schedules for all sports.
The work involved in organizing sports in a pandemic has been extremely challenging, but at the same time rewarding. The challenges this year were many. We had to learn all the mitigating procedures and apply them to our programs. We changed all activities from different schools into one centralized location, and modified facilities to allow for social distancing, defining entrances and exits. We also had to rethink sitting in the school buses, etc.
Coaches have been tasked with doing health screenings and speaking to athletes on a daily basis about protecting themselves while in school and in their community. Athletic operations were also challenging, as the department had to look at all our facilities and decide how to set up and run athletics while using safety measures to keep the virus at bay. We changed the layout for basketball sideline chairs and the scorekeeper’s table with social distancing precautions; the officials’ tables were also set up six feet apart from each other. We allowed less people to be present during the games than usual.
The coaches had to screen athletes daily and to maintain steady and reliable communication, which at times can be challenging. It has been difficult to track athletes’ activities in the remote learning setting, and difficult to track their contacts to prevent the spread. I am proud to say the coaches’ hard work paid off, as athletics has shown zero community spread this school year.
At the beginning of the school year we didn’t know if we would be able to have sports activities. But we made it happen. For our athletes, after months of being away from their friends and team members, and having to adhere to social distancing rules, the ability to come together as a team and to play sports was a huge emotional lift. Compared to last year, they were not in their peak physical condition, of course, but judging by their behavior, they were more appreciative of being able to play, and they were conscious of the amount of effort it took to put together a season for them. Watching our young men and women come back to the fields and gymnasiums to compete has been extremely rewarding. Student athletes have been participating enthusiastically while staying safe.
Near the end of the winter, we have been able to start allowing each athlete to invite two guests to each game, and this practice will continue into the spring.
As we transition into the later part of the spring season, we are busy planning for fall sports. With the help of our local Department of Public Health and the input of many people in the athletic department and different city departments, it is our hope to resume a full complement of fall sports this September.
New Haven Athletics will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that our athletes can safely engage in activities as we continue into the next school year.