The questions continue for local Catholic high school sports teams on what the next steps will be in the return to normal as the COVID-19 pandemic lingers on.
At some point — either before or after a widespread vaccine — there will be a time where we’re all sitting in the stands enjoying sports once again.
The girls’ basketball program at Msgr. McClancy H.S., East Elmhurst, isn’t waiting around for an official restart date. For six weeks during this spring and summer, the team held workouts on the online video conferencing platform Zoom twice a week.
“I saw that the schools were doing it with the classrooms,” said Crusaders varsity head coach Dewey Hopkins. “I thought to myself that this would be a great vision to get them started up once again.”
During a typical summer, the McClancy student-athletes keep very active when it comes to basketball. Many of the team members remain teammates in the summer during the Amateur Athletic Union season, which runs from April through the end of July. The players take August to rest and recharge before starting up with school in September.
Things have been much different this year, so the Zoom work-outs served the purpose of keeping the girls’ skills sharp for whenever they need to be ready. The work-outs involved stationary exercises in their house or backyard to keep them both physically and mentally focused — instead of just being cooped up inside their homes staring out the window amid the stay- at-home order.
About 15-20 girls took part in each session — many of which featured core work and conditioning drills. Varsity team captain Hannah Finnerty, a rising junior guard and GCHSAA All-League player last season, led the workouts along with a different player each time. In addition to current members of the freshmen, junior varsity, and varsity teams, McClancy invited incoming freshmen as well as any girls within the school who wanted to join.
Basketball was the main focus of these workouts, yet Hopkins made it a point to use the sessions as a way to stay in close contact with his players during these challenging times. Even if just for an hour a few times a week, the girls turned their minds away from the coronavirus and enjoyed their passion for hoops.
“We always asked them at the start of a workout how they’re doing and how their families are doing,” Hopkins said. “Everything was positive. They needed positivity in their lives.”
As the calendar shifts to August, we’re all patiently awaiting the guidance on what is to come. For the Crusaders, they’re hoping to receive the go-ahead to practice together outdoors first and then in their newly refurbished gymnasium.
Through it all, the safety of the student-athletes will remain the top priority.
“We’re not looking to make it stressful at this moment because there’s been enough stress in their lives already,” said Hopkins.
Ultimately, the state of New York will make the final call on what the reopening of schools will look like. One thing is certain though: We can’t have sports without a full in-person return to school. Until then, Hopkins is keeping his Crusaders sharp for when the green light comes.
Contact Jim Mancari via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.