Lucy G. 21’
Winter in Vermont seems half a year long, with participating in and attending winter sports games, but it gives us something to look forward too. MSJ, and other teams around the state, have been practicing their respective sports since December or the beginning of January, but without any games until just last week. The first basketball games for the girls and boys took place last week. Now that the long wait for games is finally over, a sense of normalcy is starting to return for kids in school.
With pandemic restrictions and Covid cases rising more than they were during soccer season, it was a long wait for the state to approve that the season start with contact playing. They conducted a two week test run with contact practice and contact tracing to see what would happen, and once that concluded, schools were able to play their first games of the season. At MSJ the managers of the basketball teams are in charge of much more this year than previous years and have to clean the basketballs and other equipment regularly. The teams’ players are also having a different experience than in previous years, with full coverage masks required during practices and games; playing any sport with a mask on is hard.
Another important aspect of winter sports during the pandemic is having no audience or crowd. This is usually such a special part of playing sports in high school, having your friends and classmates there to cheer you on. Only team members and coaching staff are allowed at games, there are no parents or students from outside the teams allowed. With no audience, each school must record their games live for people at home to watch. It’s not the same experience as being in the crowd and cheering but it is much better than not being able to see the game at all. Without an audience or a crowd to bring the energy up it makes it much harder for the teams to keep that energy up themselves.
Skiing has also been affected by the pandemic and covid protocols. Our ski team experienced its first race of the pandemic last week. The MSJ ski team is known for its laid back and relaxed maneuver and operation. With Covid protocols, ski races are much shorter and straight to the point, having less time for fun, free skiing or for preparation for future races. Masks are also mandatory whenever racers are around other individuals, except when in motion for a race. Being in large gatherings, inside buildings, and on/near the chair lift requires masks to be worn.
While the pandemic has made life difficult in a multitude of ways since it began, it cannot crush the excitement and spirit of winter sports at MSJ. Basketball is a beloved sport for both girls and boys and for MSJ families and alumni. Wearing masks, following sanitation protocols, and watching live streamed recordings of games all make this year's experience of the winter sport season difficult, but the MSJ ski team did very well and all players, individually, competed well for their first race this season. The boy’s basketball team won their first game against division 1 BBA, and the girls have won two games so far against division 2 BBA and division 1 Mount Anthony; the season is off to a great start and we’re looking forward to playing more games.