Still in the Running


Cheerleaders performing a routine during a football game.

Sports are a cornerstone of high school culture. When winter seasons were due to begin, student athletes wondered how this season would be different.

The winter sports that traditionally run are track and field, swimming, bowling, basketball, ice hockey, cheerleading and wrestling. All of these sports have had to adapt to COVID-19 concerns.


Winter Track and Field

Track and field had planned to begin in December but was postponed to early January.

“This winter track season looks different,” Coach Anna Snow said. “We’re not having competitions against other schools. Our athletes just want to get out, get in shape and see each other. We’ve been meeting outside every day to make it safer, and if it’s raining or really cold, we do not have practice indoors. Athletes do their workouts at home.”

Commenting on whether having a vaccine available any time soon would affect the way the season would run, she said, “That’s the question everyone is asking. People are weighing the pros and the cons. I’m not sure. I think if it was required, we’d lose a lot of athletes.”

For sophomore Brian DiCola, having to wear masks at all times during practice was already enough to keep him off the team.

“I’m fine with masks themselves,” he said, “but when exercising, it gets all sweaty and it’s hard to breathe. It’s difficult because I want to be part of the team, but a lot of the restrictions are holding me back.”

Freshman runner Rose McGee is on the team and has a different opinion on the mask mandate: “The mask is actually a pro for me, because I’m around people at risk so it makes me feel better about staying safe.”

As a freshman, Rose thought that her experience was different from those on the team from other grades. “I was nervous going into the season because I felt out of shape and didn’t want to seem like that to people who haven’t seen me run before. But we’re going slow and the coaches understand, so those nerves are gone and I’m really excited to get in shape for the spring season.”



The swim team’s virtual pasta party.

Girls and boys swimming also started in January. “It’s very different but yet very much the same,” Coach Amanda Dynan said. “We’re just trying to be very specific about who is in each lane. And only five can use the locker rooms at a time, so many go home wet. But swimmers are a different breed; they’re good at balancing parts of their day and being resilient.”

“I feel like swimming, out of all the winter sports, is the most safe,” said sophomore swimmer Ava Tornetta. “They open all the doors, the ventilation is good, and when we’re in the pool, there’s so many chemicals that nothing is living in there.”

She thinks that the biggest change is with how meets are held. “It was just the girls, our parents weren’t allowed to watch, and we had to be far from each other and keep our masks on. The weirdest part was that the other team wasn’t there. We swam at our own pool and submitted our times for judging. It went by way quicker than usual; normally you can’t hear yourself think.”

Socially distanced swim practices.

Senior swimmer Ally Vergara said, “The season was shortened, and we don’t know when championships will be. But it honestly doesn’t feel that different. Our team is pretty loud, so we cheer from the balcony. We still say hello, we’re very chatty and we’re very inclusive. Even with COVID, we have that bond.”

The swim team cheers each other on from the balcony.

As a senior, Ally had mixed feelings about her last season. “I’m staying positive, but it’s sad that a sport that I’ve put 10 years of my life into is finishing like this. However, I’m content with my last season. I can already see a change in the way I’ve been thinking, because jumping into a pool of cold water is a great way to refresh my mind and forget about the unlimited drama in the world.”



Junior Mason Rash practices.

Similarly starting in the new year, the bowling team held their first practice on Jan. 12. Sophomore bowler Liberty Pancoast said, “There haven’t been a lot of changes. We wear masks now, but we don’t have to be very close together and there’s not a lot of us, so there wasn’t a lot of concern. Although, we do have less matches because our season started a month late, due to COVID.”

Liberty wondered about the long-term effects of the pandemic for the bowling team.

Junior Dustin Errickson practices as freshman TJ Weston and junior Mason Rash watch.

“There’s no freshmen this year, and some people didn’t come back because of concerns about COVID. This year, there’s only two girls on our girls team.

We’ll struggle a lot more.”

Still, Liberty was grateful for the season. “It was up in the air if we’d even

have one,” she said. “I’m a little nervous, but I’m also excited and happy to be back. Bowling helps me get away from school stress. And I’m definitely appreciating it a lot more after it was uncertain for a while.”




Girls’ varsity basketball standing for the national anthem.

Basketball began open gyms in November. Girls basketball has been eager to start the season. “PIAA says we can’t compete until we have at least 10 practices, so we’ve been having practices every day except Sundays,” said senior and co-captain Ava McKinney. “Jan. 15 was supposed to be our first game against Plymouth Whitemarsh, but now they’re in quarantine.”

“The boys team would be on the same schedule,” said junior and co-captain Alice Hall, “but they had to quarantine around a week ago. They should be coming back soon.”

For the girls, practices have not changed drastically. “We have to wear a mask the whole time, so it’s a lot harder to breathe, but we get more breaks. Other than that, it’s pretty much the same,” Ava said.

Senior and co-captain Ava McKinney on defense.

Alice agreed: “We can’t have pasta parties and we can’t go in the locker room, but we are still pretty close and we can meet in the hallway. As captains, we try to encourage people to stay positive and work hard.”

Junior and co-captain Alice Hall takes a shot.

She is excited for the season: “There are not very high expectations this year, so it’s an opportunity to surprise people. Being the underdog is always exciting. And COVID leveled the playing field because everyone in the league had to wait to start their preseasons.”

Ava appreciates having basketball as a way to destress: “It’s good to hang out with a group of girls who you’ve been with for so long. It makes life seem a little bit more normal. I really like that I can go out and do something. In past years, whenever the season came, everyone would joke that it was so stressful and the worst. But this season, everyone’s more into it.”


Ice Hockey

The ice hockey team has been practicing since September. “We took a break because of COVID, then started up again in January,” said junior player Jack Steinberg. “There’s been significant changes to how we play. Our ice slot has changed, and we won’t be able to have practices for the rest of the season.”

Their first game was Jan. 13. “No one is allowed to come watch the games, and we have to wear masks while playing,” Jack said. “But we’re still out there with our team and talking on the ice, so there’s still bonding with that. It’s not such a drastic change that it’s horrible.”

Jack expressed optimism about the season: “This is my only way to do anything besides lying in bed all day. Since school isn’t the same, it’s nice for there to be something that’s relatively normal. Even though I’m nervous about the lack of conditioning and preparedness, I’m also optimistic because every other team is suffering under our circumstances. I have all the faith that we’ll have a very solid season.”



The cheer team’s senior celebration.

The cheerleading season has been underway since August. “We’ve had many setbacks,” said senior and co-captain Sharon Dotti. “Because of COVID, we’re going through April and still practicing as frequently as we used to. Also because of COVID, our competitions have been set back more — our first will be in March — so we have more time to set up a routine.”

Similar to swimming, the cheerleading team will not be competing alongside an opposing team. “We might video tape our routine to be scored, which makes it harder for us because we would need more difficulty in our routine. If we did go to a location, it would be one team at a time,” Sharon said. “It might be less nerve-wracking, because no one will be there and judging you, but it’s always a good feeling to be competing in front of everybody.”

 Still, she is hopeful for the season: “We’ve never given up, so this has made us stronger. When we are practicing, it’s our little escape. We enjoy each other’s company, because these are the only people that we really see.”

The cheer team gets hype in a huddle before a game.

Sharon graduated early on Jan. 14, and she reflected on her time on the team: “In my freshman year, I would have never thought that I would be a captain. My confidence grew as I got to know the team better. I’m thankful for every day that I get. It can be kind of sad to not experience everything I thought I would, but the experience is still there.”



The wrestling team has a significantly different experience from the other winter sports teams: they don’t have a season this year. Sophomore wrestler Orion Newell disagreed with the decision.

“Wrestling was declared an unsafe environment, but I do not believe that. A lot of what people were saying to influence the vote wasn’t entirely correct: one person said that wrestlers don’t wash the mats after practice, which isn’t true. Even before COVID, there would be very good upkeep of the mats. Additionally, the coaches didn’t really get to share their perspective. It’s been disheartening to hear this.”

To avoid losing time, Orion has been wrestling outside of school. “At the Hatboro-Horsham Wrestling Club, there have been no COVID cases for the months that it’s been open. I’m fortunate enough to be able to still wrestle; for others, this is nearly a year and a half break before the season picks up. It’s important to get matches for your wrestling career, so without this season, we’re losing a ton of progress.”

Orion is trying to stay motivated for the next season: “I can understand what the decision was going for, but of the teammates I’ve talked to, everyone’s pretty upset at how wrestling was singled out. A lot of the things held against wrestling, I feel, also apply to other sports. But I still have the drive to put in the effort for next year.”


Coaches’ Remarks

Finally, the coaches offer advice for students about how to deal with this strange time.

Coach Snow said, “I would say that movement is the best thing you can do for your body. Everybody deals with stress in different ways, and one way is physical activity.”

“Control what you can control,” Coach Dynan advised. “You can control what food you put in your body and what time you put your phone away. Those are the two best things you can do. We can’t control what’s going on politically, what decisions our school administration or PIAA will make, so we control the little things: being nice to each other, being supportive of each other and helping each other.”


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