COVID-19 has changed our normal routine and made the ordinary a little less ordinary. It has caused us to reevaluate our protocols and procedures, creating parameters that few people ever thought would exist. It also caused us all to lose out on opportunities and time that, prior to mid-March, we took for granted.
Athletics at Kingsway certainly learned this fact the hard way over the last six months.
In mid-March, schools closed their physical doors and went into virtual instruction mode. The winter track team, with its US #1 ranked 4×800 relay, had its chance to hammer down the national championship snatched away three days before the race. Spring sports then were cancelled. Athletic life came to a halt.
However, after the NJSIAA put together medical and sports advisory task forces to create “return-to-play” criteria that then was implemented by school administration, Kingsway sports practices resumed on Sept. 14.
So, what are the coaches saying?
“Being able to resume football is huge for our players and especially our seniors,” said football coach Mark Hendricks. “I am proud of their efforts. Getting back together has been terrific for their spirits and our culture. They are setting a great example of how to #PlayItSafe and work hard to become a better athlete. We are thankful for the little things, especially the opportunity to play and compete. We look forward to seeing the support of our fans and community as we take the field for our home opener with the new turf on Oct. 9th vs Williamstown.”
“My team and I are extremely excited to have this opportunity to be together again, playing the game that we love with the people we love,” said field hockey coach Dana Ott. “The first few days were definitely an adjustment. To have an opening huddle spread out and all of us wearing masks was strange. We have accepted the “new norm,” and, two weeks in, we are adjusting well. My team’s goal is to appreciate all that this season has to offer.
“Yes, it is extremely different from what we are used to, but my team is taking the challenges each day,” Ott continued. “They are focusing on what they can control, which is their attitude, effort, and flexibility with changes. With local colleges’ fall seasons being cancelled, we are grateful to be playing this game. Every single day we have together is a gift, and we are making the most of our season and playing with as much competitive drive and focus as possible.”
“I’m happy to have the opportunity to be back on the pitch, interacting with the athletics again – yet, at the same time, adhering to all the protocols so not to jeopardize our limited window this year,” said boys soccer coach, John Green. “Constant communication within the program is key. We still want to win the Tri-County. Because of the limitations put on other tournaments within South Jersey and the state, the division title is the priority.”
“I am feeling cautiously optimistic,” said girls cross country coach Caitlin Hess, “Being a year- round coach for cross country and track and field, alongside Coach Mel Carter and Coach Christian Lynch, we spend three or more hours a day, six days a week, nearly year round with a good portion of our runners. Through the course of the year, we often spend more time with each other than we do with our own families, so being apart was particularly difficult for us. I cherish every moment we have together.”
“The athletes have been phenomenal in following the protocols we’ve set forth, because they know whether our season relies heavily on their willingness to adhere to new social distancing procedures,” Hess continued. “Our goals have been limited by cancellations. We can’t go after state, Meet of Champion, or regional titles this season, as they have all been cancelled. We will still compete for a divisional and South Jersey title, while following procedures in order to keep meeting, training, and competing as long as possible.”
It sounds like this athletic staff has great perspective on sports and its place in the lives of the young athletes at Kingsway.
By Christian Lynch