By Petra Zucker and Darren Amona
Imagine sprinting down the soccer field, headed toward the other team’s goal, dribbling the ball on the wet grass as fast as you can breathing in the crisp air…all from behind a mask.
This year, sports are different from anything athletes have ever experienced at The Leffell School before, but coronavirus has not stopped them from playing the game they love.
The Lions are at it again with some new rules to the game: masks must be worn on the field at all times and no spectators are allowed.
“I would much rather wear the mask and play than not play at all,” boys varsity soccer captain Zach Burton said.
Due to COVID-19, only certain sports were allowed to practice and play games during the fall season. According to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA), all football, volleyball, and competitive cheer were canceled.
While mask-wearing has not necessarily been a problem for the players, the pandemic and its restrictions have affected the way that the game is played.
“I feel like COVID-19 is kind of out of my head,” Burton said, “I feel like I’m just focused on playing soccer.”
Girls varsity soccer captain Gabby Nir agreed. She said that although the mask was annoying at first, she doesn’t notice it anymore.
“Because of coronavirus, we are all more excited to be playing soccer, and I feel like we all appreciate it more,” Nir said. “We all hang out and make more of an effort to make practices and games because we know that the time is shorter than it usually is.”
Throughout the pandemic, Nir mentioned that although team bonding is restricted, the players have persevered.
“Usually, we work on having a lot of team bonding exercises,” Nir said. “Another thing we missed out on is usually like the day of a game is having a cute little team meeting before big games.”
In past years, the team huddled before games. One player would recite a quote to get the whole team prepared for the game. Although they can’t hold the huddles anymore, the quote ritual continues.
Fall sports were safely played during this pandemic; The Leffell School plans to offer a portion of the typical winter sports. This year, there will be boys varsity and junior varsity basketball and girls varsity basketball. Middle school modified sports will not take place due to limited gym space.