Mask and travel restrictions challenge laxmen

Lacrosse team competes in scrimmage against Gilman in early March

“Masks must be worn at all times,” Assistant Athletic Director and Lacrosse Head Coach Mr. Brendan Dawson often tells his players.

     With guidance from the school, the Inter-Ac, and the PIAA, the lacrosse team has required all players and coaches to wear masks. The 2021 spring season is packed with in- and out-of-state games. Although the schedule changes almost every day, the lacrosse season is on. 

     “The schedule is very much a moving target,” Coach Dawson said.

     On March 1, Governor Wolf revised mitigation orders on gatherings and lifted out-of-state travel restrictions. According to the official Pennsylvania Government website and Governor Wolf, “Pennsylvania is taking a measured approach to revising or lifting mitigation orders… We need to balance public health with leading the state to a robust economic recovery.” 

     With the spring season underway, the removal of the out-of-state restrictions has allowed the lacrosse team to play other schools.

Lacrosse team competes in scrimmage against Gilman in early March

     On March 6, the lacrosse team sent 45 members of the team (including coaches) to Archbishop-Spalding High School in Maryland. “Obviously, this Saturday we have our first scrimmage. We are going to Maryland. But there’s rules and stipulations about how we travel there,” Coach Dawson said before the contest. 

     “Each kid going to the game has to get taken to the game by a parent or family member,” Coach Dawson said. “They can’t carpool and they can’t drive themselves.”

     When the team arrives, specific guidelines are in place on what players can and cannot do. “When we get to Maryland we won’t use a locker room. We’ll just go right out to the field. We’ll start warming up, play, and get in our cars and drive home,” Coach Dawson said. 

     The same protocol is in place for visiting teams at home, “They’re not using the locker rooms here. If they need to use the restrooms, they use the restrooms,” Coach Dawson said. “They get dressed, play a game, and leave.”

     According to Coach Dawson, players and the PIAA understand that the mask is a nuisance. “The PIAA has made some recommendations that just like in football, sports that wear mouthpieces it’s considered dangerous to wear a mask and have a mouthpiece in,” Coach Dawson said. “It is hard to breathe.” 

     Fifth Former Peter Kaplan said, “Normally people complain a little, but I think people have just accepted the circumstances, and they’d rather just play with a mask on.”

     With a lacrosse helmet on, wearing a mask is difficult.

      “You wear a chin strap, and you put the chin strap on and it pulls it down over your nose and all of the sudden it’s down over your mouth. Or if you get hit in the helmet, your helmet can move and knock your mask off. There are times where the mask comes off, but we are diligent about telling guys to put their masks up and make sure that they’re doing their best to keep them up,” Coach Dawson said.

Lacrosse team practices in early March to prepare for a scrimmage – Kai Jacobs ’22

     The lacrosse team is simply grateful to be out on the field. “I’m getting used to the mask and just happy to be playing. Especially since the long break, everybody is excited to be out there,” Fifth Form starting goalie Chuck Cacciutti said.

     Coach Dawson has structured a safe and efficient practice to prevent the spread of COVID-19, “Our practices are fast paced and moving, so there’s never a time on the field where somebody would be standing around another player for over 15 minutes. It just doesn’t happen. Even if a drill goes for 15 minutes, which is very rare, people are filtering in and out of the drills and moving to different spots,” Coach Dawson said. “They’re never in that same spot for an extended period of time or what would be considered as a close contact with somebody else.”

“I just feel fortunate, and honestly lucky that we are able to play, and so if they tell us that we have to wear masks, it’s a small sacrifice. We certainly won’t use it as an excuse.”

Coach brendan dawson

     Just over a year after the 2020 season came to a halt, Saturday, March 13 meant the lacrosse team’s scheduled season opener against Maryland’s Boys Latin School, which resulted in a 10-13 loss.

    “I just feel fortunate, and honestly lucky that we are able to play, and so if they tell us that we have to wear masks, it’s a small sacrifice,” Coach Dawson said. “We certainly won’t use it as an excuse.”