Deja vu: Athletics participate in hybrid training during virtual week


Photo credit: Hannah Levensailor

Members of varsity basketball pose for a picture after practice. As athletics started off the first week of the semester with virtual training, upper school varsity soccer and varsity basketball were able to train on campus on Thursday and Friday. “At the beginning of the year we opened up and, so, those remote possibilities were ones that were really explored and dug into prior to that. So we had those solutions available.” Director of Athletics Kim Smith said.

By Grace Doyle , Sports Editor

Athletes logged onto Zoom for their first virtual practice of the second semester. After it was announced that school would take place online from Jan. 3 to Jan. 7, due to concerns about the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, Archer Athletics transitioned their week to fit health and safety guidelines. With previous experience of virtual training, athletes reflected on the flexibility of the week.

Last week, on campus practices for middle school basketball and soccer were canceled and their competitions were also rescheduled. Upper school sport hed Zoom strength and conditioning sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday and Friday, they went back to on campus practices while following new guidelines set forth by the Youth Sports Protocol.

As the week began, Director of Athletics Kim Smith said that Archer athletes knew how to adapt to situations regarding online and COVID.

“We’ve learned to be flexible, and we’ve learned to adapt during these uncertain times,” Smith said. “Within athletics, we’ve also prepared for possible scenarios so that athletes get to continue to team and get to be athletes.”

We’ve learned to be flexible, and we’ve learned to adapt during these uncertain times.”

— Kim Smith

Senior basketball captain Marissa Gendy spoke to the transition onto Zoom, especially because athletes had been participating in in-person practices for a few weeks prior.

“I was actually a lot more worried going online, and I think I’m probably in the minority. I was just really worried because with Zoom last year, in the beginning, I lost a lot of motivation, because I was really tired of being in my room every day staring at a screen,” Gendy said. “I wanted to be very cognizant of my mental health, and where I was last year and being on Zoom didn’t help. So I was a little nervous for that. But I’m not a newcomer to the realm of Zoom. I know what I’m supposed to be doing, and I know how to combat all the negatives that come along with Zoom so I knew I was prepared.”

Isabella Specchierla is one of the senior cocaptains on varsity soccer. She said that the switch to an online platform has been a throwback to last year.

“It’s definitely brought up some memories of early quarantine,” Spechierla said. “It’s just really shocking that we’re at this point, still, in my senior year. When I started doing this online training it was in 10th grade. It’s definitely kind of sparked some nostalgia, but maybe not in the best way. It’s crazy how we’re back here in senior year, and I would wish to be on the field with my teammates.”

Along with the lack of in person practice comes an added effort for connection Gendy said. As a captain, Gendy spoke about the responsibility she feels due to the switch online.

“I’ve been checking in with my teammates a lot recently,” Gendy said. “I do feel a really big responsibility to my team and I feel like I have to take on this role of, not so much the caretaker, but almost like the protector because they’re so young … And so I’ve been trying to reach out as much as possible. We said from the beginning, we want to be the most available and most approachable captains as we possibly can … We want this to be a really positive experience.”

Similarly, Specchierla has utilized her means of connection to check up on her teammates. She also tapped into a program the soccer team already had in place.

“I’ve texted some of the players who are injured and see how they’re doing, and then we’ve just kept in communication with the team through our group chat,” Specchierla said. “And with the buddy system as well, [we’re] keeping in touch with our buddy. So [we’re] just doing little things we can … and keeping the team updated on the happenings of the week and staying in contact with Coach Smith as well.”

While the basketball team has had challenges throughout their season like team size, Gendy said that experience has helped them become accustomed to new challenges.

“The majority of us are freshmen and they’re not new, but they came later on in Archer, and I did too, so I kind of know where [they] stand, and being on Zoom, I like to help them out as much as I can,” Gendy said. “But because we’re so small, I feel that we are so adaptable because we have this connection and we just want to play basketball … we haven’t been winning a lot, but because of that we’ve become accustomed to looking at the bright side of things and making do with what we have.”

We’ve become accustomed to looking at the bright side of things and making do with what we have.”

— Marissa Gendy

At the beginning of the week, during their conditioning session, the soccer team took a moment to check in with one another. Smith said that the team is working on the ability to learn from challenging moments.

“We, specifically to Archer soccer, met for our conditioning session online, and checked in with each other, and spirits are high,” Smith said. “We’re about a seven to eight out of 10. So, it’s a great tool if you can take from those moments and bring it into the present, and learn from that and how to make it better.”

Through the unusual week, the soccer team is “staying positive” Specchierla said. They have been using the front half of the week to also prepare for the latter half where they begin in person practice again.

“COVID is not a very positive topic and it’s not a positive situation that we’re put in, but I think we’re really good at adapting and adjusting to the situation at hand,” Specchierla said. “I’m really proud of all the girls who had just adjusted to being back online, and also just finding ways to work out, and stay in touch with the soccer ball and the team also during this time of quarantine.”

Overall, even with certain preparedness, there are wishes for sports seasons without the need to adjust.

“[I am] hoping everyone stays healthy and negative,” Smith said. “So that we can move through our season as seamlessly as possible.”