Uncertainties regarding winter sports season linger but athletes remain optimistic

by Ben Habler, Freelance Writer

As we sink deeper into the winter, the uncertainties surrounding the winter sports season at Glen Rock High School have remained as COVID-19 cases and concerns increase.

The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletics Association (NJSIAA) has released the following updates regarding the various sports seasons:

-Ice Hockey: Competitions may begin on Friday, January 15, 2021 and the season has been extended until Saturday, March 6, 2021.  The practices were able to begin virtually or outdoors as of Monday, December 14, 2020 while they can begin indoors on January 3, 2021.  No out-of-state competitions will be held.

-Skiing: Outdoor activities may have begun on December 14, 2020 as originally planned.  Competitions were able to commence as of Monday, January 4, 2021 and the season ends on Wednesday, February 17, 2021.

-Basketball: The first basketball practices are able to take place on January 11, 2021 and opening day is on January 26, 2021.

-Bowling: Practices are able to begin for bowling on January 11, 2021 and opening day will be on January 26, 2021.  The end of the season will be on March 6, 2021.  Additionally, no out-of-state competitions will be held and the maximum amount of competitions per week is three.

-Track: Winter track practices are able to begin on February 1, 2021 and competitions will begin on February 16, 2021.  As of now, competitions will be limited to only two teams.

-Wrestling: Practices are able to commence as of March 1, 2021 while competitions begin on March 16, 2021 and cease on April 24, 2021.

These updates are likely to change as COVID-19 circumstances evolve.

Despite the precariousness of the situation, athletes continue to prepare for their sport as best they can in hopes that there will be a safe and complete season.

“COVID-19 has had a really big impact on my training by not letting me have a normal schedule training plan,”  junior Aidan Carroll said, a track and cross country star at Glen Rock High School. “I just have to make it up as I go along.”

This winter sports season is not guaranteed and can be shut down at a moment’s notice. The potential loss of a season could have larger implications than one might think.

“Since I lost both my winter and spring track season as a sophomore, I have no track times down, and I would really like to run in college. In order for me to run in college I have to have really fast track times,” Carroll said. “Even if the season gets shut down, I will still train as if we have a season.”

With normalcy not being an option, athletes are doing the best they can to prepare for the challenges which this season will inevitably present.

“Our winter season will definitely be greatly affected by COVID-19,” Carroll said.

While track is to a large degree an individual sport, the team sports face additional challenges that come as a result of the lack of inter-team bonding and relationship building activities that are often factors in determining on court performance.

“We will probably not all be able to practice together as a whole team,” said junior volleyball player Sarina Trivedi. “It will be harder to do all of the team bonding that is essential to playing well together on the court.”

With volleyball and other sports such as basketball, wrestling and bowling being indoors, immense safety precautions are in place to ensure the safety of all participants.  The season has been shortened and masks are required at all times by players that are on the bench.  Additionally, social distancing is going to be constantly maintained in the bench areas.

“Pandemic safety measures have led to us not being able to play as many games this year than in a normal season, but hopefully this will make us want to play harder in each of the games we have the opportunity to play in,” Trivedi said.

The “make the most of the season because it might not last” mentality that has been a result of COVID-19 is a testament to the difficulty of this situation and the resilience which the athletes have displayed.

“I definitely think this mindset will alter the way I’ll play this year,” Trivedi said.  “It makes me want to push myself even more in every practice and game.”