Athletes find ways to bond after winter sports postponed


Emily Veenstra

Winter Sports athletes begin to adjust to online practices while athletics are still on hold.

Emily Veenstra

The IHSA announced a pause to all winter sports on Nov. 19. The winter season, which was supposed to begin on Nov. 16, came to a pause as Governor Pritzker implemented new mitigations that went into effect on Nov. 20. The IHSA declared that sports will be allowed to conduct practices over online platforms but the official season will not begin until further notice.

The sudden postponement of the season came as a surprise to many students who had already begun their season that Monday.

“We had started that week. We had a meeting over Zoom with the coaches telling us all of the expectations, such as limiting lanes to three people and keeping our distance,” said junior swimmer Gavin Bickner. “We were able to get four days of practice in before officially having to stop on Thursday night. It was definitely disappointing news to hear.”

Some athletes are also aware and cautious about the physical toll that this postponement will bring. Without having the tools for training that the athletes would normally have in-person, athletes are unable to properly prepare for the upcoming season.

“We are able to do group workouts and train over Zoom, but for swimming, that hasn’t been able to happen. Between Water Polo being canceled last spring and Swim being postponed this year, my times [the speed swimmers can swim at] are really going to be hurt,” said junior swimmer Tony Finch. “We are not able to compete on the same level as we have been able to in the past, and -of course- we aren’t as socially connected as we would be in a typical season.”

The social aspect of the teams is what many athletes are worried about losing the most. In many sports such as dance, teamwork is important to make sure that everyone is in sync and that newer members are able to find a home inside of the team.

“The team is trying to do Zoom bondings. Like, we’re planning a Christmas movie watching this week, between just the girls and no coaches,” said senior Chiana Phillips. “You know we’d like, text and talk about this stuff among ourselves, and we’re trying to get that connection.”

For other athletes, such as senior Julia Tesmond, who has just joined the JV Dance team, they have to experience their first season in a different way- one that strays from the stress of competing and focuses on the importance of team bonding.
“It is sad that I just joined, but this is how it is.” said senior Julia Tesmond. “I still have the team, and we keep in contact with the sisters on the team. We’re always checking up on each other, and the coaches have been really good about making sure we’re staying positive and upbeat.”