Pinewood Athletics Department Works to Solve Practice Constraints by Kate Magliaro

Photos by Ahnika Mangalick

From class schedules to extracurriculars, Pinewood has been forced to make a variety of changes to the layout of this year due to Covid-19. The faculty have had to make significant adjustments in a short period of time, which has put pressure on activities such as clubs, sports, and electives.

While there will not be any games or matches this semester, the athletic department spent a lot of time making a plan with a detailed schedule in order to maintain the spirit of sports on campus while maintaining a safe environment for everyone.

Pinewood created a fall conditioning program that combines all the sports that take place during the fall and winter seasons of a normal school year. This means that tennis, football, volleyball, and cross country, which are normally fall sports, are happening at the same time as soccer and basketball, which are normally winter sports. Conditioning as a team rather than practicing as a team makes socially distancing a lot easier to maintain.

With social distancing, teams have been forced to shift their mindsets about expectations for student athletes. Pinewood athletic director Matt Stimson said the safety of students and staff is a top priority. Still, he’s sad that things aren’t normal.

“I miss watching our students practice and seeing the joy, along with the pain of the hard work they put in,” Stimson said.

Pinewood athletics trainer Theresa Maksim, who is now serving as a COVID specialist for the school, says she wishes she has concrete answers about when sports will resume.

“The biggest obstacle we have to overcome is not being able to give definitive answers to questions. The guidelines, requirements and expectations are constantly changing and we are constantly having to change how we are doing things,” Maksim said.

Because of the new schedule, teams can only have conditioning practices rather than a regular practice, which forces coaches to have alternative activities to keep the athletes moving.

“The practice schedule is basically optional right now, meaning we don’t have consistent attendance, so as coaches we can't be super hard on anyone,” tennis coach Craig Corfield said.

Keeping sports teams well-conditioned and also well-prepared for the season in spring is far more difficult without a regular practice schedule and with fluctuating attendance.

Multi-sport athletes at Pinewood have had to choose between their fall and winter sports, and seniors have had to adjust their mindsets about how the typical senior year experience is changing. Senior Karla Hernandez-Cid, a tennis, soccer, and softball player, chose tennis over soccer for many reasons, such as the fact that it is easier to socially distance while playing tennis.

“It has less contact which would make it more likely to happen normally,” Hernandez said, though it was still a difficult decision for her to make. “I am sad because it is my senior year, but it's for everyone’s safety so I’m okay with it.”

With the many factors involved in continuing to keep everyone safe, Pinewood has strived for balance. Students continue to have a positive attitude, even considering what they may miss out on, and coaches are reexamining the structure of their sports.

Yet, regardless of the many challenges, hope remains for a return to normal.

“We are progressive with our thoughts and are hoping we can get our high school sports in this year,” Stimson said.