Even amidst the new world of masks, social distancing, temperature checks, contact-tracing sheets, and new protocols, fall sports at the high school are up and running.
Due to concerns about close contact between participants, football, cheerleading, and girls volleyball were moved to a second fall season (Fall 2) that will take from February 22 to April 25, between the traditional winter and spring seasons. Girls and boys soccer, boys golf, girls and boys cross-country, field hockey, and girls swimming and diving, however, are currently holding practices and competitions within parameters set forth by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA).
In order to keep travel and exposure to a minimum, Wellesley is only competing against the Carey Division of the Bay State Conference, which includes Brookline, Natick, Newton North, and Needham. The season will not conclude with a post-season or any state tournaments.
For field hockey (4-0), the COVID-19 safety protocols extend onto the field, reducing the traditional starting lineup to increase distance between players.
“The biggest change of all this year is having to play seven versus seven, rather than the usual eleven versus eleven players. It’s a lot more running and definitely is an adjustment. Also, it’s difficult to process that the hard work we are putting in every day at practice won’t benefit us in a postseason, but we are beyond thankful to be able to be together to practice and compete at all,” said field hockey captain Grace Donahue ’21.
Boys cross-country (1-1) and girls cross-country (1-0) COVID-19 procedures include mask-wearing and social distancing during practices and meets.
“Even though we need to wear masks and pay attention to social distancing, cross-country feels similar to previous years. Unfortunately, we won’t have any postseason meets, so we will have to miss many of the most fun races at the end of the year,” said boys cross-country captain Chris Harding ’21.
For boys soccer (1-1-2) and girls soccer (2-1-1), major rule changes include the elimination of purposeful heading and contact, as well as the implementation of indirect kick-ins instead of throw-ins. In addition, players must wear masks at all times during practices and games.
“Due to COVID-19, we have had to adapt new game plans as the rules have changed for player safety. We are forced to play a more tactical game as physical contact is limited, but this has allowed us to improve on our skills both as individuals and as a team,” said boys soccer captain Effa Fouda ’21.
“In addition to having to wear masks while playing, like everyone else, restrictions pushed back our season a few weeks. Although it felt odd, I would contend that this extra time helped our team more than anything, as we got to know each other better as people and players. The bus and team dinners feel different with social distancing, but we’re slowly acclimating and are still able to celebrate goals and bond as a team,” said girls soccer captain Ella Kharl ’21.
For boys golf (8-0), COVID-19 implementations involve mask-wearing and social distancing at all times. When six feet of social distancing is achieved, players may take off their masks. Although postseasons were canceled across all MIAA sports, an invitational tournament will take place for top golf players across all divisions.
“Usually there are lots of interactions in golf, such as the tradition of shaking hands with opponents to introduce ourselves at the first tee and then at the end of the match on the last green. The start of the season felt strange, but with golf being a naturally distanced sport, it’s been easy to adjust,” said boys golf captain Colby Sanville ’21.
Perhaps the biggest change to a sports season goes to girls swimming and diving (5-0). Instead of holding traditional dual meets, each team competes at their own pool, records their results, compares it to the times of the other team, and determines a winner virtually.
“Virtual meets definitely add complexity to the season, since it’s hard to create the energy of a normal meet when you can’t see the girl you are racing in the lane next to you. However, we are super grateful to have a season, and racing virtually has taught us to find other ways to motivate ourselves, both internally by pushing ourselves and within the team where the new competitive spirit helps each girl push her teammate to be their best,” said girls swimming captain Valerie Passanisi ’21.
Girls and boys soccer games take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays, field hockey games take place on Mondays and Wednesdays, cross-country holds meets on Wednesdays, golf matches occur depending on course openings, and swimming and diving holds virtual meets on Tuesdays and Fridays.