One team on multiple screens: Archer athletics adapts for 2020-2021 sports season


Photo credit: Amanda Butch

The varsity basketball team poses for a picture after a game at The Buckley School. Athletes, such as the basketball team, will have to regain their team dynamic virtually. Discussions of the 2020-2021 timeline and ways to keep up training were weaved in with new opportunities coming in the fall announced Athletic Director Kim Smith.

By Grace Doyle, Sports Editor

While classes remain virtual due to COVID-19, Kim Smith, Director of Athletics, and the athletics department announced their new digital programs and plans for the fall, winter and spring sports seasons. Let the virtual games begin.

In order to comply with COVID-19 regulations, the athletics department has launched a new strength and conditioning program for the first semester. Athletes will participate in the 12-week program using the TeamBuildR app to stay connected; through daily workouts, those who participate will prepare for their respective sports seasons.

“I’m really looking at creating opportunities for the athletes to connect, to be inspired, to be able to lead, to be able to train, and compete a little bit,” said  Smith. “I really look at this time for mental and physical wellness by proving tools for the athletes to use.”

As mandated by CIF, the 2020-2021 seasons will consist of a fall and spring season. At Archer, the first middle school season will span Jan. 4 to March 5, consisting of cross country, tennis and volleyball. The second middle school season goes from March 15 to May 21 with basketball, swimming, track & field and soccer being played.

The high school seasons differ: the first season will span Jan. 4 to March 12 and include cross country, equestrian and volleyball. The second season, March 8 until May 21, will be basketball, beach volleyball, soccer, softball, swim, track & field and tennis.

“I worked closely with our head of school Elizabeth English- she provided the framework for us to work within” Smith said. “We’re taking our experience this past spring and really looking at what is needed right now, so I’ve had time to really think about what can we provide.”

Something that may be lost in the virtual world is the sense of senior leadership senior athletes experience during their final high school season.

“I’m friends with people on my team that I probably wouldn’t have been able to,” senior soccer player Maggie O’Leary said. “On Zoom it’s much more awkward so if we have team meetings, especially for freshmen, it’s important to create a very welcoming space for them to have fun.”

According to Smith, the team bonding experience is a significant component of Archer Athletics. In a virtual setting, athletes are going to have to adapt as a team.

“Considering the need to connect and function as a team, even though [athletes] were training on their own, there’s still that need for a team component, so I’ve really been looking at that and building on that team experience,” Smith said.

Younger athletes said they are also grateful for the virtual opportunities to connect with their teams. They are keeping an open mind when it comes to continuing with their training.

“I think that having an open mind about the new circumstances and plan and being open to adversity … is really important,” said sophomore tennis player Zoe Woolenberg. “I think that if the players keep being open to the app and new opportunities then that will make everything a little better and hopefully improve the mental health of the teams.”

Still, hopes are high among athletics for what their seasons could bring.

“My hope for this year is that we get a good, fulfilling season,” O’Leary said. “It would be a nice end to my Archer soccer career.”