Fall sports continue despite coronavirus restrictions


Olivia Caponiti '23

Each student-athlete wears a mask and stands socially distant in the team pictures.

Though the fall season looks different this year due to COVID-19, all Sacred Heart Greenwich athletic programs are still engaging in their respective sports, safely.  Field hockey, cross country, soccer, volleyball, and rowing have all adapted to the new safety restrictions.

Each sport began playing August 31, following Connecticut’s guidelines, with masks and social distancing.  Volleyball, soccer, and field hockey all had tryouts at the beginning of the semester and established teams, similar to past years.  Athletes were able to scrimmage and play contact for the first time September 21 while still maintaining protocols outside of the games.  Rowing has been able to have practices in the Mianus River at RowAmerica Greenwich at least once a week.  In addition to training with masks since the beginning of preseason, cross country began competing in meets on the weekends October 3. 

The Fairchester Athletic Association (FAA) has cancelled all competitions for the fall season.  However, the Sacred Heart Athletic Department has incorporated a few independently run scrimmages in the schedule for the season.  All sports, excluding rowing, competed in their first scrimmage or meet against Greenwich Academy October 3.  Although the games cannot have any spectators, the King Street Chronicle live-streamed the varsity field hockey game on its Facebook page.  The scrimmages consisted of four quarters after which the score was reset and not recorded by either schools, so that they remained solely opportunities to develop skills, work as a team, and feel a sense of competition.

Ms. Elizabeth Dennison, Director of Athletics, is ensuring that the Athletic Department can provide student-athletes with these opportunities for growth.

Varsity volleyball plays a match on their new outdoor facility, located at the tennis courts.  Courtesy of Sacred Heart Greenwich

“It is my hope that every student-athlete will take advantage of the time we have to really slow things down in practice and focus on skill development,” Ms. Dennison said.  “This season is the perfect time to focus on skills, areas that you’ve been meaning to improve, and take risks in practice during our intramural scrimmages like trying new skills or an entirely new position.  Most importantly, I hope the students will enjoy each other this season and the chance to train and be together each day.”

Ms. Dennison is also on the Coronavirus Board at Sacred Heart, which met several times over Zoom this summer to plan for the new school year and discuss the protocol for fall sports.

“Our return to play policies and phases were a result of this extensive work to ensure that our student-athletes and coaches could safely return to the playing fields in August,” Ms. Dennison said.  “This included getting creative to ensure all sports were able to get back to effective and meaningful practices, such as building our new outdoor volleyball courts, ensuring outdoor space for rowing to train, and other adjustments to our facilities and equipment for each team, officials, and coaches.”

Off of the field, the Sacred Heart athletic staff emphasizes the importance of team bonding.  Although the school has prohibited team dinners and other outside team events for right now, the captains are still working to enhance the relationships within the sports teams.

Senior Alana Fredrick, varsity soccer co-captain, has made adjustments to the season in order to foster a strong connection between each individual in the program and to ensure the teams have an overall fun experience in the midst of this uncertain time.

“For Halloween, the seniors have picked a broad theme in which each grade must come up with their own smaller theme,” Alana said.  “Then, we will have a fun Halloween practice with scrimmages, our favorite drills, and fun competitions.  We are trying to do as many fun things as possible where we can get everyone involved.”

Varsity soccer co-captain Alana Fredrick ’21 practices with a mask on.  Courtesy of Mr. David Fierro

This fall is a very uncertain time, meaning sports teams and the Athletic Department have encountered several challenges.

“It’s been challenging to keep the team motivated and to have the same determination in practice even though we don’t have too many games,” Alana said.

As challenges arise, everyone in the community has been working as promptly and efficiently as possible to resolve them.  The Athletic Department pushes us to look at this situation in a positive way and to view these challenges as opportunities to improve.

“We have to continue to be adaptable and change plans and things on the fly,” Ms. Dennison said.  “I would encourage everyone to reframe not only the fall season but this entire year with a focus on what is positive and good, not only the negative or what is lost.  Control the controllables.  I said this to my team a lot when coaching, and I think it rings true not only for athletes but for many things in life: focus your energy on what you can control and don’t waste energy or emotion on things that are not within your control.”

Featured Image by Olivia Caponiti ’23