The empty pool at Northgate, where usually the “Flamealopes” swim team would be practicing and holding meets.

 

Winter Sports in the middle of the pandemic has been as much a story about stopping and starting the season as it is any one swim meet, wrestling or bowling match, or basketball game. Luckily, however, after a two month shutdown, sports have been able to get back to business, and in particular boys basketball has returned to top success.

“Winning is great,” said new Athletic Director Ms Andrea Patton, “but what I think I’m more impressed with is the amount of resiliency. I’ve seen these athletes and their coaches and teams. There’s a lot of energy. A lot of momentum.”

Winter sports shut down along with the hybrid format in November. One of the most difficult aspects for student athletes was not just staying in game shape physically, but also keeping a sense of team identity. 

“I would say that most, if not all of {the student athletes} are probably feeling relieved and excited to know that they will be able to continue on with their sports and compete.” said Patton about the return to competition. “It’s been a turbulent year for all students, of course, and also for athletes and for those who are in activities.”

With winter sports teams  left wondering while decisions were being made, Patton said of the return, “I think, again, relieved is probably the best way to describe {the student-athlete reaction}. I think a lot of them were, you know, hungry to get back.”

Sophomore Center Peyton Faulkner scores one of his 8 points against Carlynton after a return to competition. 


Yet COVID rates remain high, so the potential for more changes remains likely.  How will the district handle more COVID related changes?

“I think that, hopefully, this doesn’t have to happen, but if it were to happen again” said Patton.  “…Particularly be much more intentional about how we provided structure and resources for athletes, so that if they weren’t able to be back in the gyms, or in the pool or, you know, in the bowling alley, you know, how can we keep them engaged and still involved in not just you know staying active physically but also staying involved with their team and still building skills and building relationships with the people on their teams.”

“I think that that was something perhaps I overlooked” said Patton,  “and so I would want to make sure I do a much better job of providing coaches with the tools to be able to keep their teams together, and you know, working on things that they can still feasibly work on.”

Even though the process was stressful and unorganized at first, once she coordinated with administration for proper precautions, they were able to have a solid plan to allow the sports to ‘hit the ground running’ as soon as the reopening had taken place. They have done just that, the current standings go to show just how well these winter sports are doing.

It looks as though, if anything, the winter sports being put on pause for a bit had boosted the enthusiasm of those playing it.

Senior Noah Donovan was one of many athletes glad to return to practice and eventually competition.

Being that now, the athletes don’t want to take anything for granted, especially the seniors.

“Kids are showing up and they’re coming and they’re giving it their full effort and they’re listening and they’re wanting to be coached and they’re wanting to be, and they’re wanting to learn and that could just be the culture of Avonworth since I’m new.”

Both the Girls and Boys Highschool basketball team are standing in first place for their division. The middle school basketball teams are gaining numerous wins as well.

In other words, the winter sports wasted no time getting back on their grind, and have been quite successful despite the difficult, unpredictable times we are living through.

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