BB&N Zooms Through Athletics

by Gerson Personnat

Even with the sports season delay, BB&N teams are finding ways to stay connected

The coronavirus pandemic has affected professional and college sports teams, as regular-season games, playoffs, and championship tournaments have been canceled. With these cancellations, professional sports leagues have started to plan delayed seasons that could last until the summer or early fall. To make up for the cancellation of the spring season, the NCAA has granted spring athletes an extra year of eligibility. However, at BB&N and other high schools across the country, a cancellation of the spring season would be a complete loss to athletes and coaches.

In late March, Governor Charlie Baker ordered all school closures until after May 4th, evidently delaying the start of high school spring sports seasons to that date. The ISL and NEPSAC have yet to make an official decision for the spring season; however, the BB&N administration and athletic department are currently weighing options for a shortened season or competitions if school returns in May. Independent schools affiliated with NEPSAC typically end their school years in early June, and spring sports generally end in mid to late May. A delayed spring season would likely end in early June to fit the season into the rest of the school year.

On the other hand, the public school athletic governing association, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) released a prospective regular season and postseason tournament structure for a spring season that would start on May 4th and end on June 27th. The Tournament Management Committee (TMC) of the MIAA also voted to restrict playoffs to district and sectional levels and void state tournaments.

Whether the spring season continues, the suspension of sports has affected BB&N athletes in ways other than reducing their activities on the sports fields. One part of athletics that BB&N students miss with the suspended season is the connections with their teammates. During track practices, long-distance track runner Abigail Rabieh ’21 enjoyed the warm-up runs to Danehy Park, the Knights’ track training facility. “It’s a bit disappointing not being able to run Fresh Pond and connect with a small group of runners,” Abigail said. The suspension of the spring sports season has been especially disheartening to seniors, as for many of them, this could be the last time that they spend their afternoons with their teammates and friends.

Crew team member and senior Rémy Lacchia ’20 explained that the small number of seniors on the crew team allowed close friendships among them: “Senior spring is a relaxed time for seniors, and the seniors on the crew team were really looking to enjoy their season with their teammates for one last time.” The coronavirus has not only taken seniors’ last sports seasons but also dinners and social events that students look forward to partaking in before they graduate high school.

The coronavirus pandemic has also affected potential team success and some BB&N athletes individually. Track sprinter Samirah Moody ’21, who qualified for New Balance Nationals Indoor in New York City, could not participate in the competition due to its cancellation. As a junior, Samirah prepared diligently in the fall and winter, as she wanted to use this opportunity to validate herself as a strong competitor on the national level. Although she still qualified for the competition, Samirah felt that she didn’t truly receive the achievement of participating in the competition. “They distributed the New Balance bags to the athletes, but it still didn’t feel as if you worked for it,” Samirah said.

Her long-distance teammate, Abigail, also alluded to the potential success of the team this year. Along with Abigail, several long-distance runners participated in the Berkshire Running Camp last summer to prepare for the season. The girls track team finished with an undefeated record last year (17-0) and second and third in the ISL and NEPSTA Championships, respectively. Samirah, who joined BB&N from the Rivers School this year and won the ISL 100 and 200 meter competitions last year, would have significantly added to the success of the team.

Some BB&N teams have continuously improved over the past seasons, and this pandemic could deter their momentum. The BB&N Lacrosse team has strengthened over the past few years, steadily improving their record each season. Senior Will Pappendick ’20 believes that this lacrosse team is the best one that the Knights have had in the past several years: “For the first time in my four years on the team, our lacrosse was on pace to be a very competitive team in the ISL,” he said. Will also mentioned that the suspension affects sophomores and juniors on the team who may be looking to play lacrosse in college. With athlete and team progress coming to a halt with the suspension of the season, teams are trying to keep their athletes engaged if competition continues.

To keep their athletes fit and ready for a late season, BB&N teams have started to create routines and digital practices. The athletic department has encouraged teams to find ways to interact during the hiatus. “Every student is affected and you feel for them because this is not how it's supposed to be. Our coaches are in touch with their athletes and the department will be providing students/faculty/staff with different opportunities to take care of themselves,” Assistant Director of Athletics Ms. Dorsey said.

Some teams have started to keep their athletes engaged during the preseason. Rémy mentioned that “the crew coaches have tried to stay optimistic that the season will start and are acting as if the season is still going on.” The Knights’ crew team is currently holding a competition where the rowers log in their workout hours and the person with the highest number wins a prize. The BB&N lacrosse team has worked on tactics and strategy by watching and analyzing film sessions a few times a week. In reference to the large amounts of toilet paper bought by people during the pandemic, the Girls Varsity Soccer Team did a challenge where they juggled toilet paper with their feet. Even without practicing in-person, BB&N sports teams are still connecting digitally.

The unprecedented coronavirus outbreak has socially distanced BB&N teams from practicing and competing with other schools. However, to keep athletes healthy, uphold connections, and prepare for a possible spring season, BB&N teams are exploring ways to keep athletics a part of the school life during this age.