Archer sports teams return to practices; athletes ‘reconnected,’ ‘excited’

Athletes+Lauren+Robson+%28%2722%29+and+Kate+Hanney+%28%2725%29+run+on+the+Archer+field+during+an+Archer+cross+country+practice.+COVID-19+regulations+have+changed+in+L.A.+county%2C+allowing+for+Archer+athletics+to+return+to+sports+practices+and+some+competitions.

Photo credit: Kim Smith

Athletes Lauren Robson (’22) and Kate Hanney (’25) run on the Archer field during an Archer cross country practice. COVID-19 regulations have changed in L.A. county, allowing for Archer athletics to return to sports practices and some competitions.

By Thea Leimone, Culture Editor

As the student body and faculty return to campus for socially-distanced learning and emotional connection, athletes have also been given the opportunity to return for Archer sports try outs and practices. Los Angeles County continues to lessen COVID-19 restrictions, which currently allows for more opportunity in on-campus and in-person academic and extracurricular activities.

Sports this year at Archer were divided into two seasons as opposed to the typical three seasons. Season one sports (five teams) included middle school cross country, volleyball and tennis and upper school cross country and volleyball. Now season two sports (11 different teams) began in March and have more training and competition or tournament opportunities.

“This is ever changing and moving and the rules of the game, and the boundaries with which we get to operate within are constantly changing. So every year that athletics, we have this puzzle to put together to create this amazing athletics experience, and now it’s just a bigger puzzle,” Athletics Director Kim Smith said. “There’s always challenges, there’s always obstacles — there’s just more of them, and…it’s a different dynamic because it is changing on a weekly and sometimes daily basis… The key has been to remain flexible and to not get attached to any one design because the design changes.”

This return to sports coincided with the one-year mark of COVID-19 lockdowns and the suspension of school sports. While some sports, such as track and swim, are practicing in alternative facilities, athletes are grateful for the chance to be with their teammates and find an escape in sports.

“Swimming has been such a nice outlet to just be able to kind of forget about everything and be present with yourself, you know, in exercise — and then be present with your teammates and not really have to think about the state of the world,” returning swim team member Eliza Tiles (’23) said. 

Junior Lauren Robson participated in cross country in season one and is now practicing with the track team for season two. Robson was unable to compete for cross country because of restrictions but is hopeful for the upcoming season where individual sports such as track and swimming will be permitted to compete in dual meets.

“I think overall, everyone just really enjoyed being back together and making the most out of this season, even if we couldn’t compete,” Robson said. “So I’m really grateful that we were still able to come together as a team.” Robson said.

All sports teams are taking the necessary COVID-19 precautions to ensure the health and safety of all team members; all athletes wear masks and remain six feet apart. Despite the physical distance between the athletes, the teams are still able to maintain connected and build relationships with one another.

Yeah I’d say that it’s more difficult to get close with your team when you have to be physically distanced —six feet apart, at all times and everything gets wiped down continuously,” Freshman softball player Sadie Long said. “Everybody’s still really supportive and so I wouldn’t say that it’s created too much disconnect.”

According to Smith, over 220 athletes signed up as being interested in the second season of sports; however, some season one teams had smaller groups. The cross country team had no seniors this year, but the upper school and middle school team had the opportunity to practice with each other.

“I definitely do miss having somewhat of a bigger team, but we have grown a lot closer this year, and we’ve also gone to practice alongside the middle schoolers and getting to know them better,” Robson said. “Just forming relationships with them, I think, was also very important.”

While the plans for season two sports are changing as county COVID-19 regulations change, athletes, coaches and other members of the athletic community say they are excited to see one another once again.. They now have the opportunity to train and compete alongside each other and return to their sport.

“Seeing that everyone’s there just enjoying playing the sport and excited to be on campus, connecting with their teammates — I feel like every athlete that’s out there has a greater focus and appreciation for the sport because they haven’t been able to participate and to train and to, you know, really be in the joy of their sport,” Smith said. “That’s been the greatest takeaway — the joy.”