Fall II athletes face a season with no state tournament

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Credit: Courtesy of Sean Goodfellow

The WHS football team prepares for their upcoming Feb. 22 season start by hitting the fitness room. This year, all Fall II sports will have no postseason due to a recent MIAA decision. “I’m excited about the [football] season, it’s inching closer and closer,” junior Sean Goodfellow said.

With several sports seasons pushed back due to COVID-19 concerns, many student athletes have experienced challenges in playing their sports safely. Based on modifications given by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA), sports like girls volleyball, football and indoor track have been pushed back to a Fall II season which is planned to run from Feb. 22 to Apr. 25. This Fall II season will include no state tournaments for these sports which is different from prior years.

As these sports were considered high-risk in the early months of the school year, many athletes were unable to play during their normal season. However, with Fall II season quickly approaching, many WHS athletes reflect on the MIAA’s decision to not include a postseason.

“I’m a bit bummed, but I would rather have a season without playoffs than no season at all,” senior girls track team member Ella L’Esperance said. “It may be hard to stay motivated when there are no times to meet for the postseason, but otherwise, it’s not a huge deal.”

Along with the other Fall II sports, the football program prepared for their unusual season with an extended time for preparation. Despite no postseason, their training has remained the same.

“The whole team is still training as if we are going to win the DCL and the division,” junior football player Sean Goodfellow said. “I think it’s better than having no season, so I’m happy it was pushed back.”

The new regulations or shortened season are not the only changes for some sports. This pandemic has been particularly challenging for girls volleyball, as the game itself may change due to new COVID-19 safety precautions.

“I’m nervous because we do have to change the way we play the game because of the new rule dictating how close to the net attackers can hit,” sophomore volleyball player Ella Zachery said. “The new rule, while it is annoying, may keep us safer by forcing a greater distance between us and players on the opposing team.”

Like football, girls volleyball players’ mentality for no postseason remains optimistic on what they can control.

“While [the MIAA decision for no postseason] is disappointing, I think that we’re preparing the same that we would if we had those tournaments because we want to win as many games as possible in our division,” Zachery said. “I anticipate that we will be running the same drills, scrimmaging and playing other teams like any other year.”

Despite the lack of a postseason, student athletes think their upcoming seasons are still worth it, especially when it adds normality to the uncertainties of COVID-19.

“I think it is 100% still worth it,” L’Esperance said. “It is so important, now more than ever, to get out of the house and exercise and have fun.”

Many of these student athletes believe sports are a way for them to excel outside of the classroom. Before COVID-19 struck, some athletes took for granted their jam-packed seasons and the community that high school sports brought them. Now, these athletes are taking advantage of every second they get to play their sport, no matter what the challenges are.

“I think without a doubt it’s worth [playing] this year,” Goodfellow said. “If you really love the sport you’re going to face [the challenges] and having the chance to play feels amazing.”