The Winter Sports Season Put on Hold

Mary Stevenson, Staff Writer

Receiving the news that the winter sports season would be put on hold during the two weeks of the remote learning period stirred up emotions for many students. Many had high hopes for the winter sports season, with the mindset that there would be the opportunity to play the schedules put in place for each team. That was not the case, however. After starting the winter sports season on December 14, 2020, there was already a delay to the season. Coaches and players were ready to start the season and play to the best of their abilities. Unfortunately, this was cut short when in-person learning was canceled only a few weeks into the season due to COVID cases reaching a concerningly high number in Scituate. 

Scituate High School Athletic Director, Peter Umbrianna, was one of the people who made it possible for a winter sports season. With the current times, it can certainly be difficult to make a sport’s season possible. Umbrianna acknowledges the differences this year holds and the difficulties of the pandemic, but he also appreciates the opportunity athletes were given: “It was awesome to be able to be granted the chance to even have a season, as well as see our student-athletes have the chance to play sports they love.” In thinking about the season and what could have been done differently, Umbrianna commented, “There is always going to be room for improvement.” He adds, “With the number of positive cases skyrocketing both in town and throughout the state, there really was only so much that could be done before the inevitable happened.” In this case, the inevitable was school being remote for two weeks. 

Of course, there were concerns about going into the winter sports season amid a pandemic. Nevertheless, Umbrianna shared his confidence in the expert guidance: “Due to the number of experts on each committee, we as AD’s feel confident that certain sports would not be approved if these experts did not feel we could safely run them and/or we were jeopardizing the health/safety of our kids.” 

It was worrisome for many student-athletes with the season being put on hold, as a two-week hiatus represents a lot of missed games and practices. Umbrianna brings good news by saying, “I am happy to say that nearly all of our postponed games, for each winter sport, will be made up and have been rescheduled.” This is great news for all student-athletes and coaches. Umbrianna also says, “High school sports are such an essential piece of the overall framework that builds the high school experience for most of our students,” showing why it is so important that the season can resume safely. 

Scituate High School junior, Ainsley Routh, is a member of the swim team at the high school. In thinking about the season and the decisions that went into making the season possible, Routh believes there wasn’t anything that could have been different with the season. Routh says, “Considering everything going on with COVID, it was probably difficult to make the schedule, but of course, I just wish we were able to practice while the school was shut down.” Student-athletes understand the difficulty for everyone this season, but it is a thought shared by many that the season could continue regardless. When considering the shutdown, the impact on student-athletes can be seen and heard. Routh goes on to say that when the season was put on hold, “it was definitely difficult, we missed a few meets and were finally getting into the swing of things when we were shut down.”

Scituate High School junior Kelly Kowenhoven, who is a member of the SHS gymnastics team, shares this concern about missing practice time. Kowenhoven says, “Coming back now, there’s more pressure than ever to keep up with skills in practice to be able to compete within the few weeks left of the season.” This season has been different from the very beginning, and student-athletes have felt the impact. Kowenhoven says, “I wish the season was able to start when it originally was supposed to. I know with COVID that made it tricky, but now the season feels really rushed.” Unfortunately, with time off from school and sports, schedules are even more condensed than before with the hopes that the majority of what was missed can be made up. Kowenhoven has a positive outlook, however, saying, “I am looking forward to finally being able to compete. It is one of my favorite things about the sport, and I have been without it for almost a year now.” 

Participating in a team sport represents a pivotal part of the high school experience for many student-athletes. In talking to members of the Scituate Girls Hockey Team, the shared opinions show the impact of a sport and the difference this year has made. Junior Sofia Marshall commented, “I enjoy being around people who enjoy the same thing as I do, knowing that I am in a group with a bunch of people who like the same thing, and I feel connected and everyone is just bonding.” Junior Abigail Short echoes this feeling, saying, “Our team [has] really good people. It’s a good team.”  Junior Emily Reardon shared what she wished could have changed for this season: “I think that they could have scheduled it better considering we had like three weeks of practices and no games, and then after our first game we got shut down.”

It can be challenging when a sports season gets cut short; however, Short expressed the brighter side of things by saying, “This year, just specifically for hockey, has actually been better than last year, like practices and everything, like work-wise.” The restrictions this year are much different than years before, which was to be expected and is understood by all student-athletes. The hope that the next winter season will be better and back to normal keeps many student-athletes’ attitudes high.

No matter what sport is being played, the difference in this year’s winter sports season is clear. The pandemic has affected many teams in numerous ways; however, no team at Scituate High School has let coronavirus bring their spirits down. Looking forward has helped many people during this difficult time. It is with high hopes and great intentions that the next winter sports season will look different and better than this year.