by Rebecca Stotsky, Sports Editor
photo contributed by Amanda Hart
A delayed season in conjunction with COVID-19 restrictions brought difficulties to the football team as they were unable to hold some of their usual pre-season workouts and seminars, football coach Ted Dalicandro said.
“We’re behind the eight ball a little bit, but we are going to make the most of it,” he said. “‘No excuses’ is my philosophy.”
To make up for lost time, the team has been working hard, practicing from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, sophomore John Toyias said.
After many months apart, getting back on the field brings excitement to all members of the team.
“I love being a coach,” Dalicandro said. “I feel alive again, being out there coaching with the kids. I feel like we are getting somewhat back to normal.”
Toyias said that the team’s connection has remained strong throughout the pandemic.
“Last year, we bonded together so much that when we came back we could come right back into rhythm,” Toyias said.
Dalicandro said that though the team always wants to win, the social benefits of simply playing are just as important.
“Just being out there and playing, we’re together and the camaraderie is coming together, so I feel like that’s just as important as everything else we’re going over,” Dalicandro said.
Girls volleyball, which was delayed from being held during the normal fall season, remains largely the same, aside from minor COVID-19 restrictions.
“Certain substitution rules changed, where you have to sanitize your hands before you go on the court and there are certain new places you have to substitute in from,” junior Sydney Sharp said.
Sharp said that additional precautions limit close contact amongst teammates, meaning no more close team huddles, which many regard as special moments of team connection.
Even with the reduced number of spectators at games and limited contact within the team, the team has found ways to generate their own energy and excitement at games, captain senior Hannah Balcanoff said.
“We call it a bench-mob. We try to be really loud on the bench and on the court to make up for it,” she said.
Balcanoff said that although the season was delayed, she is grateful to play volleyball, which offers her an escape from stress.
“It is really a blessing to even have indoor sports in general,” she said “It’s a break from all the chaos going on and you just to get to play and have fun.”
Boys Indoor Track
Junior Brendan Weissel said that the team’s first meet, which took place virtually on March 29, felt different, as athletes usually draw motivation and energy from fellow competitors.
“There is more competition when everybody is on the track cheering for your specific team versus the other team,” Weissel said.
Though virtual meets pose the difficulty of athletes not getting to compete against opponents from other schools, the track team is still competing strongly.
“People still ran a lot of really great times, and people still challenged themselves and challenged each other,” Weissel said.
Although the team splits up based on their events for the majority of practices, they still find moments to come together as one, captain senior Daniel Glickman said.
“We meet up at the end, and it is a nice reminder that everybody is doing a different event, … but at the end of the day, we are all one big family,” Glickman said.
With over a year passing since the last indoor track season, Glickman said he is happy to compete again.
“We are embracing the Fall II mentality,” he said. “We are all excited to start back up.”
Girls Indoor Track
The girls indoor track team bonded over their shared experiences and struggles during the pandemic, captain senior Kaity Shaughnessy said.
“We are all going through the same thing, so everyone is there to support each other,” Shaughnessy said.
With no scheduled meets at the beginning of the season, captains shifted their focus to team bonding.
“In the past, we would usually hold some captains’ practices to get in shape before the season started,” Shaughnessy said. “We still had those, but they were more focused on team building, which was beneficial.”
The indoor season, which was postponed from the winter to Fall II season, has also allowed for new people to join the team.
“It opened up opportunities for people who maybe did other sports during the winter season in a normal year to come do track,” Shaughnessy said.
Shaughnessy said that track allows her to step away from the stress of online learning and enjoy the outdoors.
“I’m grateful that we have been able to have this indoor season because honestly, doing anything outside of just sitting at home on the Zoom screen all day is such a relief of stress,” Shaughnessy said.
The unified basketball team, whose season was postponed from the fall, is undaunted by this year’s obstacles. However, the team’s schedule has been shortened and the size of the team has also been significantly reduced from 40 players to 24, unified basketball coach Alex Strongin said.
While certain aspects of practices are the same, other parts of practices are different this year, junior Sarah Laughlin said.
“Before we would only do a scrimmage once a week, but now we are doing them pretty much every practice,” Laughlin said.
The team has also had to adapt to wearing masks while playing, as basketball is a sport that involves a lot of physical activity.
“When I run a lot, it feels strange to wear a mask,” junior Peter Shea said.
Laughlin said that despite such changes, being able to play basketball and see other teammates is worth it.
“We’ve definitely built a really strong team and every time I leave practice I am in a better mood,” Laughlin said.
The dance team’s performances this season have been adjusted to follow COVID-19 protocols, which have called for choreography moves that are not as technical as they usually tend to be.
“This year, we have to do cohorts [and] stick to line based dances, and everyone does the same choreography and very monotone dances,” sophomore Lousie Shiner said.
Despite the challenges, the dance team’s tradition of performing at football games continues, although with some alterations.
“We have to be separated. Usually, we all sit on the sidelines together, but we have to be on opposite ends of the field in our cohorts,” Shiner said. “When we perform we are all together as one.”
Much still remains unknown about the dance team’s competitions this season. In previous years, the team competed consistently throughout their season; this year, they may end up only dancing at football games, Shiner said.
Shiner said that although this season presented a set of unique challenges, she is happy to be dancing with the team again.
“It is good to see everyone and watch football and be together and just try to work through the experience,” Shiner said.
The cheer team, whose season has been postponed from the normal fall season, has had to adapt to several changes, including not being able to perform certain stunts and having to practice in the lobby of the field house.
“It is hard because now we are in the middle of everything and we can’t really have our spot, so it is difficult to focus,” captain sophomore Sade Arguello said.
Throughout the season, captain senior Kelly Barbosa said the team’s inseverable bond has helped teammates maintain their spirits through difficulties, leading to effective progress as a team.
However, due to COVID-19, the team has also not been able to do certain events that members of the team typically look forward to.
“All the stuff that we used to do like banquets, we can’t do it this year,” Barbosa said.
Captain sophomore Gianna Croce said she is happy with the team’s progress this season despite the unexpected complications they faced.
“There are a lot of restrictions, but we’re trying to make the most of it,” she said.