COVID-19’s Effect on Fall Sports

Photo by Laxmi McCulloch

Sports this fall season have been far from usual. Because of the collective decision of the Friends School League (FSL), all competition for the foreseeable future is postponed. For the boys’ soccer team, this has drastically changed the daily practices.

“The absence of games has caused some of the intensity and focus that the program usually strives for to be relaxed a little,” says team captain and senior Lucas Johnston-Peck.

While typically varsity and junior varsity practice separately, this year everyone is combined on the same team. “This year the captaincy means taking responsibility for more kids than normal,” says Lucas. “We are trying to emphasize the importance of hard work on the field and off it.”

In addition to goal setting and skill improvement, captains also get to bond with their teammates. With a combined team, these captains now have a unique opportunity to get to know the underclassmen. “While there’s a lot of new faces,” says Lucas, “it’s a fun job getting to know the people who are going to carry the program forward in the coming years.”

Girls’ soccer coach and GFS alumnus Manolo Sanchez is also keeping a positive attitude. He explained the implications of the current practice schedule on the team: “It has allowed us to be more focused and concentrated on other things that we are trying to accomplish,” he said. “Things such as team culture, skill development, etc.”

Empowered by his positivity, the players match Sanchez’s spirit. As he points out, “[The athletes] are just so grateful to be around each other in person, so their energy and enthusiasm has been great.” 

Girls’ soccer team captain, Ella Shay ‘23, explained that team bonding is a bit more difficult this year. With this year’s lack of competition, Ella says, “We don’t have that one shared goal that we have during a regular season.” However, she’s still excited. “We can have fun with each other without the pressure.”

In the more relaxed environment, captains have dedicated themselves to continuing the cherished bonded team culture. Junior Joanna Lin, girls’ tennis team captain, shares her experience, saying, “Team chants, huddles, and other celebratory behaviors were characteristic in our other regular seasons.” Joanna is determined to keep the closeness between athletes while socially distant. She explains, “As a captain, I feel it is one of my responsibilities to help bridge my teammates together towards more of a unified team.”

Similarly, girls’ field hockey team captain, senior Naiya Mainigi, believes, “Every year it is the captains’ job to encourage, cheer, and bring the enthusiasm.” This year, without the motivation of upcoming games, Naiya says they are “working much harder to create a fun environment where people are still excited for practice.” 

The coronavirus could have hindered team unity, but leaders like Lucas, Sanchez, Ella, Joanna, and Naiya made sure this was not the case. They led with enthusiasm, creating consistency amidst a new school year with very little set in stone.