New Year, New Gear

December may be over, but winter sports are just beginning.  Winter sports usually start in the month of November, but due to fall spikes in COVID, a statewide mandate forced all winter sports to pause. But finally, after months of canceled activities, most school sports are starting.  The week of the eleventh, Providence students will return to basketball, hockey, and skiing. albeit with modifications. 

Masks are among the biggest changes to this year’s winter seasons.  The masks are going to be an extra layer between the players and the air they need when working hard. It also wouldn’t be a true COVID season without social distancing, but this poses an extra challenge to teams trying to work together while maintaining a six-foot distance.

The Providence boys Varsity basketball team during a game.

Basketball player Ellie Millerbernd ‘22 commented, “I think that it’s really hard to truly bond with the team as we have in the past. It’s more difficult to communicate with my teammates on the court and even the rest of the team on the bench because of the masks and the social distancing (even the seats are 6 feet apart). We can’t even high five each other. It will be a weird adjustment, but our team already seems to be making the best of it.”

For the girls’ hockey team, masks and social distancing aren’t the only things they need to adjust to.  Starting this year, the girls’ hockey team is co-oping with St. Paul Academy so that is just another thing they have to work through to try and be at their best. 

Hockey player Ava Wasserman ‘22 reflected on the changes of the season, “It’s tough for sure, only having two weeks of practice before playing our first game with the new girls.” 

The feeling of being disconnected does not just exist between teammates. As of now, there are no spectators at any of the games except for immediate family, causing a disconnection between the players and their usual fans. The dynamic is a far cry from having a full student section cheering for your every move to a small number of your usual fans. 

Heidi Wasserman, a PA mom who is one of the few able to watch her daughters hockey games, also commented, “With all these changes, I am just happy that the girls still get to play and still even have a season.” 

Some of the girls’ hockey co-op players pose for a masked pic

This sentiment rings true among the community.  Athletes are happy to be back in the gyms and hockey rinks, even if it means a shorter season, difficult social distancing protocols, and masks full time. Although the changes pose challenges, PA coaches, students, and parents alike understand how lucky Providence athletes are to still be able to play.

Varsity hockey player Josh Mogeni ‘22 affirmed, “We just have to make the best of it because we don’t have that much time left altogether, mask or no mask.”

No More Sports?

This year has been hard for all aspects of the world, but particularly in sports. A few weeks ago on Wednesday, Governor Tim Walz announced that due to the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases, social gatherings, gyms, and indoor service at restaurants will be put on pause for the next four weeks. Unfortunately, this means that high school sports cannot happen.  

Although 2020 has been known for changing at the snap of the finger, the devastating news hit some athletes hard. 

“Even though we were quarantined, we were still expecting to at least have one more team meeting and banquet before we said our goodbyes to our 2020-2021 PA football team,” stated Mark McCarthy ‘22. “I am looking forward to next year and hoping that things will be back to normal so we can have a full season.”

Olivia Klammer ’21 works out on the treadmill in preparation for her upcoming basketball season. Photo Credit to Evelyn Hemler ’20.

The winter teams did not expect this to happen so early in their season and were shocked as well as sad that they will not get to play again until next year. 

Not only, has this been hard on the student-athletes but also the coordinators and the coaches. This year has sent them for a loop with everything changing all the time.

I am typically one calendar year ahead with planning and scheduling,explained Athletic Director Mr. Daren Messmore. “This year has been a challenge with the changing of dates, length of seasons, and the new protocols.”

The winter teams have been told by their coordinators and their coaches to “control what they can control.” This is good advice when it comes to sports right now, they cannot control what happens during their season but they can control how they prepare for it. It will also not only help them get through the time apart from their team but to beat their competition when the time finally arrives. 

This was also followed by the fall cross country team when they had a few bumps in the season with half the team having to quarantine in the middle of the season and the different schedules than years past. 

Joseph Harlan ’24 dashes for the finish line at a cross country meet last fall. Photo credit to Mrs. Amy Hohenecker.

“The cross country team and I are most looking forward to getting back to our normal schedules and are hoping that there will not be so many restrictions put in place for the season next year,” exclaimed Mrs. Amy Hohenecker, head coach of the cross country team.

2020 has been about being resilient and adaptable. We will continue to keep moving forward and make the best out of each situation that we are blessed to be a part of,” glowed Messmore. 

 

Until Next Season!

The tennis girls started off the year strong, even though they were unsure of how the ongoing pandemic would affect their season. No worries though, they had one of the best seasons yet! With fall sports coming to an end, sections had come up too soon.

The team poses for a photo post-win.

 

It was decided that this year, instead of a single-elimination for both teams and individuals, the players would get double elimination but it was team only. They were upset but happy that there were even sections at all. 

Captain Annika Harberts-Ott, graduating class of 2024, said, “It’s disappointing that individuals are canceled because we all worked so hard but I’m excited about the team aspect.” 

The players were scheduled to play SPA for their first match on Tuesday, October 7th. Throughout the years, St. Paul Academy has been a tough opponent, the matches slightly out of their reach. The team played them for sections last year as well as throughout the season and it has become one of their main goals to beat them. 

The match against SPA was close but in the end, the opposition succeeded. The team was positive about it, planning to work harder in the offseason to try and win next year.

This year, tennis suddenly decided to co-op with other schools, the only co-op member, Lisey Langhus ’24 is so excited to be able to play tennis as there are not enough people for a team at her school.

Langhus says, “The best part was how even though we weren’t all winning, everyone was still cheering each other on.”

Unfortunately, the consolation match for the girls was canceled the day of, so unknowingly, that St. Paul Academy match was their last one, but there were still some practices and the banquet.

The banquet took place in Gym C on Tuesday, October 27th. Everyone was excited to be together as a team again, especially with Langhus and the coaches, who had never seen see the yellow halls.

The team dinner and awards were bittersweet, already starting the countdown of 8 months and 14 days until the next season.

Coach Alissa Wilkins said, “I am so thankful for everyone and will miss you guys. Make sure to keep in touch because it’s going to be all of us together next year too!” 

Katelyn Clements ’24, Olivia Eck ’22, Leighton Ferrel ’24, and Libby Bruce ’24 playing a fun doubles game.

Because the team has no seniors and all the spots are filled including exhibition, the team will stay the same this year and next year, which is great because the bonds between members can only grow stronger.

“My favorite part of the season was seeing all the new people on the team slowly grow and open up until we were one big family, especially because we have no seniors,” says Captain Olivia Eck, class of 2022

Langhus gave a special announcement Tuesday night, “I am so lucky that the team was all so welcoming and I was able to fit right in even though I don’t go to the same school.”

 Usually, everyone on the team had very mixed opinions but the one thing they all could agree on was how nice it was to still be able to play especially because of the circumstances. 

Eck agreed and remarked, “I would have been devastated if our season would have been canceled and the coaches did a great job of making everything normal and just as fun as last season!”

Fall Sports Rise to the Occasion

In a year full of many “I-didn’t-plan-for-that-s”, yet another is added to the list! As is the custom every fall, football and volleyball seasons have begun. However, this year is much different. Rather than coinciding with the beginning of the school year, these sports have only recently begun practices and games. 

As a result of Covid-19, many 2020 sports seasons have been altered. Tennis and soccer, for example, had reduced practices and games, as well as new protocols and regulations. Similarly, football and volleyball were delayed for two months with talk of postponing the seasons until spring.

Fortunately, as of a couple weeks ago, these sports were given the green light to begin their shortened seasons immediately, causing excitement in the PA community. From scrambling to hold tryouts to piecing together game schedules, coaches, players, parents, and members of the athletics department have worked nonstop in the short amount of time they were given. 

Kate Allerheiligen ‘21 and Grace Counts ‘23 celebrate after a great point. (Picture courtesy of Kate Allerheiligen)

“It has been a crazy time with the season being moved and starting abruptly, with only having a week of practices before the first game,” volleyball coach and math teacher Erika Greene commented.

The football community has been juggling the same challenges as they begin the 2020 season.

“This school year has been about being adaptable,” commented Director of Athletics Daren Messmore. 

Messmore has had to tackle new challenges every day as he manages sports during Covid-19. Despite these obstacles, both Messmore and Greene are thrilled to see the teams back together again. 

Messmore and Greene’s hard work paid off, because even with two missing starting players, varsity volleyball won their first game of the 2020 season on October 8th. Defeating St. Paul Academy, they triumphed over the unpredictable start to their season. Hitter Maria Counts ‘22 is relieved to be playing as a team once again. 

“Practices and open gyms don’t satisfy the competitiveness and intensity that make sports so fun,” she noted. 

The football team practicing on the PA turf. (Picture courtesy of Sophia Gable ’22)

Counts is excited to see what the season holds as a result of the new, young talent introduced to the varsity team this year.

“It will be fun to see how we all play together and work together,” reflected Counts.

Similarly, football worked hard as they took on Mound Westonka on Friday, October 9th. Although they lost in overtime, they fought until the last minute, displaying the same perseverance as the volleyball team at their game.

Overall, the grit and resilience of players, parents, coaches, and administrators have overcome the unpredictable start to these fall sports.

Panthers Scratch Their Way to a Win Against Lions

Lions huddle to discuss how to tackle the Panthers at Tuesday night’s home game.

From the first “good luck” to the last “good game,” Lady Lions fought hard for the win in Tuesday’s varsity volleyball game, hosted at PA.  The match was a nail-biter, 18-18, then 19-19, 20-20 and eventually, 2325, Panther victory.  

Though the Lions came up short, PA outplayed Mound in certain aspects of the game.  Both teams showcased strong serves; Panthers looked for some open holes where they could spike balls to get the kill, but, according to Junior Varsity Coach and PA mathematics teacher, Erika Greene, Lions did it better.  Mound undoubtedly had solid hitters and servers, but the “Lions served [their opponents] out of system, so they couldn’t run their middle hitters very much,” Greene remarked. 

In the third set, Lions decided they were not simply going to give the match to the Panthers; Mound would have to work for the win.  “Even when we were behind, we kept a positive attitude,” commented captain Kate Neill ‘20. Neill also noted, “our mindset going into the game, along with our pregame plan helped us play a tight match.” 

Neill claims Lions’ defense helped PA in this game because Panthers shot a lot of hard balls and spikes. “We kind of knew what the team would be like from playing against them in the past,” Neill added, “which helped set up lineup for the game.” Maria Counts ’22 said “the scrimmaging we do at the end of each practice helps me work on defense

Kate Neill ’20 prepares for the kill.

and hit more aggressively.”  She continued, “it also gives me a chance to become more confident in trying new skills.” 

Defense, indeed, kept the Lions alive, a defense punctuated by dives from Hannah Schomer ‘20, a smart, unreturnable spike from Mimi Meadows ‘20, kills from the outside by Kate Neill ‘20, and deep digs from Lauren Heim ‘20.  Coach Greene said as the season unfolds, “we will continue to work on eye sequence, setting a strong block, and making an aggressive move to the ball on defense.” The Panthers may have finished, the match but the Lions are only getting started this season.