On-campus sports practices structured with new framework, allows athletes to refine ‘basics’

The+volleyball+team+wears+masks+to+practice+on+campus+to+maintain+COVID-19+guidelines.+Both+the+upper+school+volleyball+and+cross+country+teams+have+the+opportunity+to+practice+on+campus+as+they+started+on+Nov.+8+with+their+COVID-19+friendly+training.+

Photo credit: Kim Smith

The volleyball team wears masks to practice on campus to maintain COVID-19 guidelines. Both the upper school volleyball and cross country teams have the opportunity to practice on campus as they started on Nov. 8 with their COVID-19 friendly training.

By Grace Doyle

While COVID-19 restrictions continue to stifle the amount of activity available to Archer students, limited sports practices are being held. The upper school cross country team and volleyball team have participated in COVID-19 friendly practices since early November. 

Following COVID guidelines, Athletic Director Kim Smith is overseeing the sports practices taking place on campus and said she has taken the approach of viewing the challenge with a “creative” mindset. 

“Even though it is limiting I’m just looking at it as a different framework or sideline or boundary,” Smith said. “It’s like, ‘how do we function within this space and how do we make it creative and exciting and allow the athletes to connect when they are on campus?’, [that] is the goal.” 

Even with restrictions such as staying eight to 10 feet apart, only partner work, or constant sanitation of balls, sophomore volleyball player Dani Fenster sees the new on-campus practices as a chance to get back to the fundamentals. 

“At the beginning, it was kind of a bummer because there’s a lot of restriction but after a few practices I really realized that it’s a great opportunity to step back and work on the basics and doing smaller level things,” said Fenster.  

Along with the chance to polish basic skills, Smith has also observed the joy that team practices have brought to student-athletes. 

“You can just see how joyful they are, these joyful moments just to see another human. It’s different to connect with people outside of Archer but to be able to connect with an Archer student-athlete is different,” Smith said. “I’ve noticed a lot of people smiling. They’re just grateful to be out there and just wanting to talk and connect in addition to playing their sport.” 

Junior cross county athlete Katherine Lee spoke about the pros and cons of having on-campus practices. 

“I think for the situation Archer is doing a pleasant job of managing sports because I know at many other schools and institutions they aren’t letting students have the opportunity to do sports,” Lee said. “However, I feel Archer practices should be longer and take more time out of your schedule just because in order to get better you have to practice every day.” 

Overall, Fenster feels that the opportunity to spend time on campus outweighs the drawbacks. 

“I think it’s so great that we have to opportunity to be on campus at all, even if it’s just for an hour and even with all the restrictions,” Fenster said. “It’s so important and it’s made such a big difference in the connection we [as a team] have.”