Director of Athletics Bruce Secrest explains how, after a summer of preparation, we were able to welcome all of our athletes back to the fields and gyms this fall.
How did the athletics department adjust to the pandemic and structure its program this fall?
Every JV and varsity team from the fall, winter, and spring seasons was given the opportunity to practice twice a week. All Middle School fall sports practiced together, too. Competitive play with other schools wasn’t an option, but our Middle and Upper School athletes met from September through November to build skills, muscle memory, and friendships.
Why was it important to you to get the students back on the field and in the gym?
Our kids were just so happy to be together, out of the house and running drills. They needed this — physically, mentally, and socially. Being a part of a team is about so much more than physical skill; it’s also an important outlet for kids to talk together and build relationships, especially after all they had been through this spring and summer.
What safety precautions did you take?
Outside, our athletes were masked unless they were 10 feet apart, in which case they could remove their masks. Inside, our athletes were masked. We focused on drills which provided the lowest level of close interaction.
What was the student response?
On some teams, 100% of the team members signed up to play. Some teams had lower participation, but that was frequently because the athlete had to choose between available sports. Even students who had chosen to learn from home came to campus to play. Every athlete and family was so glad for the opportunity — we didn’t hear one complaint. You should have seen their faces when they first got back together!
How does this fit into our athletic philosophy at Steward?
This shows who we are as a community, at our core. The word “care” doesn’t seem like a big enough word for the love we have for these kids.