Sports this fall will look different: no state or conference championships will be offered, the season will be shorter, and started later; and when we eventually play games, there will be no post-game handshake among the opposing players. In one way or another, those changes are all part of our response to the pandemic. Maybe, instead of seeing this season as something less, we can see it as a return to the roots of sport.
Ram athletes are back on the fields and courts. In an interesting twist, one team that normally plays on a court is now playing on a field; more on that below.
Cross country practice: each runner has a spot, marked by cones and their backpack. This small handful of runners were the first ones to finish a long lap; they are stretching while waiting for the others.
Boys’ Soccer Coach Jason Montesinos, able to instruct and teach while his players maintain their healthy spacing. Joanne Ding and Nidhi Nimma demonstrate that tennis has always been a socially distanced sport. Bella Wysocki and Mikayla Cole, preparing for the girls’ soccer season, show that effective passing helps spread out the defense, while also leading to more goals. Ram coaches this fall are coaching pandemic safety at the same time they teach the skills of their sport.
Meanwhile, our state association ruled that playing any indoor sport this fall was unwise due to the questions about air circulation in some gyms, so we have created an outdoor “grass volleyball” physical education class. Our volleyball players will prepare for a competitive season in the NJSIAA’s new “Season 3” (mid-February to mid-April), while they compete against each other. All our Middle School teams will also hold an intramural season, competing against each other.
Without the prize of a championship trophy, what will motivate Ram athletes? We expect them to focus on the local challenges and process goals as they strive to improve in order to compete better against their teammates. If we can all learn, in a new way, that every competition is a challenge, every practice is an opportunity and every accomplishment deserves celebration, maybe we can get closer to the pure enjoyment of the game that we imagine motivated the students who founded American high school sport, in 1882 and earlier.