At Freeman, students take lots of pride in their athletics, so the inability to play spring sports was “definitely unexpected and hard to deal with,” said junior soccer player Ryan Alexander. However, for the first time since the outbreak of COVID-19, Freeman sports are starting to be able to practice again.
While some teams, such as soccer and wrestling, are allowed to officially practice at Freeman, other teams, such as girls lacrosse, have to play at recreational fields. According to Freeman’s athletes, most seasons are on track to be played at some point in this school year.
For athletic teams that are allowed to practice, they must take mandatory precautions. Danny Piper, a senior on the wrestling team, said that “before entering, we have to answer a set of coronavirus screening questions and have our temperature taken.” Upon entering the practice space, “We have to remain distant and keep our masks on unless we are doing aerobic exercises, in which case we are spread out on the field to ensure safety,” said Danny. While safety measures are necessary, they do have potential disadvantages. “Some kids can’t drive to the field after school” said Ryan.
Freeman athletes are committed to training. Junior basketball player Jahidi Kouroma said, “As of right now, everyone is on board and ready to go” when the time comes to get back on the court.
As the sports seasons get closer, training routines become increasingly important for getting in shape. Ryan said it was hard to start back up “because we have to meet up on a day we can all go.” On the other hand, Meg Pollard, a sophomore who plays lacrosse, said “it was easy because I felt like I wasn’t away from it for a very long time as I worked on stick skills during quarantine.” Freeman athletes are doing everything they can to be prepared for their seasons, whether it be by training at home or on the field with teammates.
After students were told that spring sports were to be canceled last year, athletes had to decide whether to train or take a break over quarantine. Danny said, “While I wasn’t able to go to a club or Freeman practice, I worked out six days a week to stay in shape and wrestled around with some of my friends when we were allowed to see each other.” He also figured out a way to work out while stuck in lockdown. “For a while, I lifted at my home gym,” said Danny.
Similarly, athletes improvised ways to practice drills. “I threw on a bounce back, but it was different because I didn’t have teammates to play and practice stick skills and drills with,” said Meg, who also mentioned the difficulty of playing alone.
Freeman athletes are also trying to balance school work and practice, all while in a pandemic. Jahidi said, “I have a little amount of time to train and I have to arrange around school.” With the pandemic’s presence still in Richmond, the future of sports is unknown. “Definitely I’m concerned [about contracting COVID-19],” said Jahidi. “But, I don’t think it’ll stop me from playing.”
While sports are usually centered around community, “I think staying focused and locked-in during times like this shows a delicate form of maturity and passion” said Jahidi.