It's Sports Season! Students Excited For The Return of PSAL Sports!
Published April 12, 2021
Students are excited about the return of PSAL.
Perspectives and updates from both student-athletes/coaches about this year’s PSAL requirements during the pandemic.
The struggles and happiness of playing or being on the team during the pandemic.
Precautions when in practice (non-virtually): having online check-ins for COVID symptoms and social distancing while running with a mask as a new adjustment.
Welcome Back PSAL!
PSAL sports are coming back to TYWLS, and it’s bringing athletes back into the team mode! But PSAL brought more than just competitions and playing a sport as a passion. When asking two Track and Field athletes what they missed most about PSAL, without a doubt responded “the community.” The community here at TYWLS is tight-knitted and more engaging and supportive of team members. The relationships between athletes and coaches are both communicative and amazing which have brought the teams to where they are now. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, sports teams were cut; however, this year’s PSAL teams include volleyball, track and field, table tennis, and bowling. Congratulations to those who joined the teams! Sports have always been a big factor in students’ lives, especially here at TYWLS, because it is a place where classmates bond and learn leadership skills beneficial for the future.
Bringing PSAL back not only meant seeing friends and teammates again but regulations. Specifically, the Track and Field team held their first meet with Caitlin McCaffrey, the track and field coach. She has been a member of a Track and Field team since she was a freshman in high school. Nora Anzer, junior at TYWLS and member of the Track and Field team, as well as the President for Student Council, sports, and more, explained the difficulties and precautions in depth. Being in the position of President in SportsHi, Nora has been contributing to athletic events, coordinating with many PE instructors/coaches, and encouraging her love of sports in the TYWLS community. She mentioned that in every meet, athletes are required to fill out a "form updating our symptoms if they are COVID-like symptoms and if we are able to participate in the meet that day.” One of the difficulties Nora mentioned was running with a mask and social distancing during practices. Another challenge during Ramadan, for those who celebrate, is that it may be a challenge to engage in anything physical related.
Evelia Romero, junior at TYWLS and member of the Track and Field team, has been involved in sports most of her life. Her interests in sports include soccer, track and field, and swimming. She is now the Secretary of the Student Council and a fellow of the TYWLS Chronicles News. She has also been a member of the Track and Field team since she was a freshman in high school. To her, everyone on the track had a “great time” and it was a place where leadership was formed whether you are a part of the team or the team captain. Everyone had a role. Updates on competitions still weighed in the balance of how to plan a social gathering, the equipment (not being able to share but costly to buy individually). Many athletes are thrilled for the comeback of PSAL and hope for normalcy to follow as well, pandemic or not.
PSAL Coaches have been working hard to make PSAL possible this year allowing the start of the sports season here at TYWLS! Many athletes have missed being a part of a team and PSAL may be their only outlet for physical activities, which makes PSAL one of the most talked-about and exciting topics occurring in the present day. James Franco, the Head of the Athletics Department, held a Q&A to those who were interested in joining the sports offered with the only difference of having no tryouts. Many sports were able to gain interest quickly and the sports season started a few months ago. SportsHi, a program to engage both athletes and non-athletes in sports environments and opportunities led by Nora Anzer and Cathy, offered TYWLS also held a Q&A panel Hangout with the coaches for the sports offered this year such as Norman for table tennis, James for Volleyball, Caitlin for Track and Field, and Akhil for bowling.
Not only have student-athletes been missing their teams and sports, so have coaches, specifically Caitlin McCaffrey, who is the geometry teacher, Track and Field, and Softball Coach here at TYWLS. I had a chance to talk about her awesome coaching skills and her take on pandemic PSAL such as limitations both in her teams and in a classroom setting. She has been working virtually from home and for her, she was able to have a “balance between asynchronous days and synchronous days.” She definitely has felt the flexibility that being virtual gave her but also noted its challenges. However, it was hard for Caitlin not to feel the need for lost time or wanting to be in a learning space with her students but isn’t able to. Her word to describe endemic was heartbreaking because of all the loss and grievances; “it's heartbreaking”. Loss is an overall thought of the pandemic because of how many people have passed away and friends and families being impacted negatively. There haven’t been many events outshining the unbelievable occurrences that have taken place during the pandemic.
Classroom-wise, there is a shift in learning, she says, “there was a lot of student to student conversations and now it's kind of hard to engage or talk with our classmates in a virtual setting. There's a lot of lost group work and the independent work which is great but we're missing the connection.” Students have found it difficult to connect with others because of the distance and not being able to share or talk in a timely manner compared to when they were in the classroom together. There is a sense of distance and difficulty in working in groups which is why independent work has become more available.
PSAL-wise, She related her thoughts back to athletes saying, “being an athlete is such a big part of your life and how the pendulum it kind of stops it which is a loss and it's not spoken much about.” Caitlin recognizes the different groups of people that are being affected by the pandemic, specifically athletes who were deprived of the last few months of last year's sports season due to the start of Covid-19 and the exciting this of people easing back into sports in the TYWLS community. She expresses her gratitude and support by saying “I really feel for the athletes and I wish I could do more as a coach.”
Even though the return to Sports in the TYWLS Community has not been the same because of the use of the equipment and not being able to share with others. When it comes to equipment such as helmets or any protective gear needed to play the sport it is hard to share as well as keep a safe distance for our own protection. And it also seems unreasonable to ask athletes to purchase their own equipment even though they won't be using it outside of their sports practices. As mentioned by Evelia and Nora, Caitlin added, “in the recent first meet for Track and Field it was really nice to see some faces, however, there was a lot of paperwork and there aren't any high fives or greetings at the end.” Even though they were outside, students were expected to social distance as well as limit contact with one another. Instead of high fives, they instead open their hands for hand sanitizer at the end. Although practices have been limited, it is an improvement in getting students more active and outside during the pandemic.
When asked about sports season competitions or meets, Caitlin responded saying everything was unknown and she didn't have any information to share. However, there are three phases that the PSAL committee enforces; phase one is conditioning, phase two is practicing with equipment but not shared equipment, and phase three is introducing meets or competitions which are in the works. We have just got to be patient and kept updated on things that we can do during the pandemic that keeps us active as well as engaged in our school community.