Sixth Form catcher Eric Genther walked down to the baseball field. He stretched his arm out with his usual exercise-band routine before lacing up his cleats. Genther clasped his catcher’s gear into place before jogging out to the field and settling behind home plate. Little did Genther know, that would be the last time he geared up for the baseball season. The 2020 spring sports season at Haverford was cut short due to the Coronavirus pandemic, leaving countless spring athletes demoralized.
In 2021, the tables have turned for athletes like Genther.
Fall and winter sports teams have both suffered an abbreviated season, often only playing games against other Inter-Ac teams and having a smaller window to finish the season. From the first week of the spring season, spring sports appear set for a resurgence, and athletes will be rewarded with a full schedule of league and non-conference games. The lacrosse team has 20 games on the schedule while the baseball team has 27 games, showing that outdoor sports are easier to operate safely under new protocols.
Athletes have mixed emotions about the inequity of each season’s schedule.
“There was a lot of pressure,” Sixth Form basketball and football player Matt Carlino said, “We had no time for scrimmages and less time to practice before each game. There was an increased sense of urgency from coaches and players, and there was no time to screw around or goof off with the team.”
Anticipation for spring sports such as lacrosse heightens amongst members of the Haverford community as opening day approaches.
The state of Pennsylvania has slowly relaxed restrictions on COVID-19 protocols as vaccines are dispersed. According to the Montgomery County Government, about 10.2% of residents have received a COVID-19 vaccine as of March 1, 2021. The Havertown Patch claims that 40% of Delaware County residents in group 1A have received the vaccine. Keep in mind that the people getting vaccinated are in groups 1A and 1B, consisting of elderly citizens and first responders, not high school athletes.
“As cases steadily decreased and the state restrictions changed with more vaccines given, it allowed us to consider a full season, one with non-conference games,” Athletic Director Michael Murphy said.
The state rules have played a big role in how each season’s sports were able to schedule and play safely. According to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, outdoor events, like most of the spring sports Haverford offers, are now open to 20% capacity, as of March 1.
The new safety measures give athletes hope for a promising season ahead. The cancellation of all spring sports last season last year has still haunts community members.
“The fact that spring athletes missed an entire season last year certainly has been something discussed along the way, however, it would not have been a determining factor if the AD [Inter-Ac athletic directors’] group felt it was unsafe to play,” Mr. Murphy said.
As opening day for many spring athletes approaches, players are hesitant but excited to play. “We’re taking this year step by step, we don’t want to take anything for granted. It’s always a good feeling to be back out there, but we never know what will happen tomorrow,” Sixth Form lacrosse player Michael Bozzi said.
Despite slight hesitation of possible spikes in the coronavirus and changes to safety restrictions, morale is high and excitement trumps any thoughts of being cancelled again. “There’s a new sense of excitement for every practice and playing games has been long awaited, the suspension is killing us,” Sixth Form lacrosse player Quintin Campbell said, “We’re ready to start the season.”