Shorter sports seasons: Worth the effort–or total bust?

Six-week schedule gives athletes a sense of normalcy.

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Photo by: Leah Bolger

Students’ bitmojis capture the different sports that will occur across the 6-week seasons.

by Leah Bolger and Jamie Donohue

The short URL of the present article is: https://lhslance.org/x55dl

On a September night, hundreds of fans sit in the bleachers of the stadium. The air is warm and smells of hot dogs, soft pretzels, and team spirit. As the game begins, players and fans are excited to scream and cheer.  When the football team scores a touchdown, there are fireworks.

Ah, the memory of high school when all was normal.

After a year of longing and waiting for something to happen with sports, Linganore High School, with many other schools across the nation, is offering a short sports season with few, or no, spectators.

FCPS announced in January that sports would resume. “In collaboration with the Frederick County Health Department, and as recommended by the Return to Play subcommittee and approved by leadership, Frederick County Public Schools will resume winter sports on Monday, January 25. One week of traditional practices and intrasquad scrimmages will be followed by a two-week competition season that will run from Monday, February 1 — Friday, February 12. “

Both the winter and spring sports are set to last six weeks with, few games and scrimmages. Track had one track meet.  Mens basketball had five games.

Is six weeks of sports worth the effort? There is a consensus that “something is better than nothing.”

Students are happy for any opportunity to play.

Avery Robertson, a member of the senior Class of 2021, plays varsity lacrosse and is attending the Naval Academy in the fall for women’s lacrosse. 

Robertson said, “This season, compared to the past, we have less of a pre-season to prepare for things like conditioning. This year we are mainly focusing on game-like stuff and position-specific drills to prepare for the games.” 

Robertson said, “I chose to play this season the same reason I have the past three years. I love the competition and getting the opportunity to be out in the field competing with some of my best friends. I do think it was worth it. Everything almost feels normal, besides a shorter season and practices and wearing masks on the field.” 

Kai Hardesty, a football player, agrees with Robertson.

Hardesty said, “After waiting for months to hear about the possibility of return to play, having a shorter season was absolutely something I was looking forward to. All I could think about was having my senior season, even if it wasn’t the same as the previous classes’. Now that we have returned to sports, this year has already become a whole lot better.” 

One negative to this season is that not all athletes are at their peak performance levels. The lead-up to seasons, with the fun training and conditioning the school incorporates into the summer, was missing this year. This means it’s up to the player individually to go out on their own and get training in. 

Junior Gemma Davies struggles with this. 

Davies said, “With the one meet we had this season, my times were only a little slower than usual because of the lack of doing workouts every day at the track, and racing in colder weather.”

With all the mayhem of this year, the freshman class, having never stepped foot in the building, were ready to try out for their first high school season. 

How do you measure this season? By the laughter and the smiles that I knew were underneath the masks.”

— Coach Rachael Easterday

Brian Blum, a freshman playing JV basketball, said, “I think it is a little stressful because it is my first year in high school, and it’s a lot more work than middle school, but my team stayed motivated by just knowing we only had four games. We knew we had to make the best of it, and I think the team was just happy to play. We were always working hard at practice and getting ready for the games. I feel it was 100% worth a season.”

Parents want life to be normal.

Stacey Robertson, Avery’s mother, is one of many parents who has wished for some normalcy in her children’s lives during this unbalanced year.

Mrs. Robertson said, “I am very thankful that all athletes got to play some sort of a season. I think it’s unfortunate that spring athletes had no season at all last year and then a shortened season this year. I wish they could have gotten a little more time since they missed an entire season last year, when other sports did not.”

Mrs. Robertson also said, “I absolutely think it’s worth it. Anything is better than nothing all all. I am thrilled to see these athletes getting back to some sort of normalcy. I think both the students and community need these seasons.” 

Corisa Davies, Gemma’s mother, also sees benefits to this 2021 season. This includes more time for her daughter to focus on school work and more time for herself to get things done around the house. 

Mrs. Davies had one problem, though. She said, “The streaming was a good feature, but it cut out at some points and didn’t follow all the runners.”

Brian Blum’s mother, Illana Blum, was one of many parents of freshmen who felt excited for their child to finally experience high school.

Mrs. Blum said, “As a parent of a freshman who lives and breathes sports, I was concerned there would not be an opportunity for him to get involved, so at this point in the year I am just grateful he has some way to participate.”

Coaches missed an essential part of their job.

From a football coach’s perspective, Coach Conner, he has never had a season like this within the last 34 of his season of being a coach.

He knows schools are all in the same position as his team is, yet he believes his team will be in good shape when the games begin. 

Conner said, “I’ll take a shorter season because it’s better than nothing. The kids miss being around each other. The coaches enjoy being around the team – it’s a win!”

Rachael Easterday coaches girls basketball. She shared her thoughts on the season in a recent Facebook post. 

Easterday said, “If you knew the girls that I am blessed enough to get to coach and the coaching staff that I have the privilege to coach with, you wouldn’t be asking me ‘What’s the point?’ The last two weeks (three games in three days last week and three games in four days this week) have been physically, emotionally, and mentally draining. . . But I wouldn’t trade it for the world!”

Easterday also said, “How do you measure this season? By the laughter and the smiles that I knew were underneath the masks.”