Senior athletes fear winter sports at Potomac will succumb to COVID-19


Photo courtesy of The Potomac School

Squash courts remain empty as winter competition has been pushed back to January first.

Henry Boehm, Sports Editor

Senior basketball guard Evelina Swigart has been looking forward to her senior season for a long time: “Any senior will tell you that their last season is one of the most important, if not the most important season of their high school career. Records are broken, championships are won; it’s the summit of everything you’ve worked for the past three years.” 

Over the summer, as students navigated a global pandemic while trying to enjoy their summer vacation, the athletic department announced that the MAC and ISL would be implementing a new plan for competition this year. Starting with winter sports on January 1st, each sports season would take place within a seven-week competition period, with fall sports starting in late-February, and spring sports starting in April.

As Potomac athletics entered its final offseason period of the semester on November 16, athletes had the opportunity to begin preparing for the planned start of ISL and MAC competition on January 1st.  

“Similar to the fall and spring off-seasons, the goal of the winter off-season training sessions is to bring our teams together so that when we are permitted to compete we are ready. We are focusing our work on conditioning, skills, and team building,” Potomac’s Athletic Director, Ms. Erica Woda, said.

Though filled with a sense of tentative hope, senior athletes began to not only condition their bodies for a season like no other but to prepare themselves mentally for the complete cancellation of perhaps their final season of organized sports.

“I think we all feel a bit unsure of what we are practicing for since there haven’t been meets,” senior miler Dana Christopher said. “It’s been really hard to have to do the majority of our training at home running alone since running by yourself is always so much harder than running with your friends and teammates.”

“Squash is already a very individual sport, but Potomac is taking many precautions to enforce CDC regulations,” senior squash captain Aalia Hussain explained. “A main part of our practices last year was doing conditioning drills with a teammate, which we aren’t able to do anymore. It’s also definitely hard to build a strong team dynamic when only one or two grades are able to be at practice at a time.”

“I think our whole program from top to bottom is really excited for the chance to compete this year, but I think it would mean the most for our seniors. For the four of us, this is supposed to be the year where we make our mark and to see the possibility of not getting the chance to do that is really unfortunate,” senior wrestling captain Tommy Labreque said.

Following the groundbreaking announcements by pharmaceutical giants Pfizer, Moderna, and BioNTech that the initial trials of their respective vaccines produced tremendously favorable results (≥ 90% effectiveness), athletes are clinging to any strand of hope they can find as the United States’ daily cases continue to soar. Though experts estimate that the country will not experience the benefits of a vaccine until well into 2021, Potomac athletes are hoping that a vaccine can save their treasured season.

“I know there was some talk amongst us that the introduction of a vaccine could be a game-changer for the possibility of our season happening, but there are just so many variables and a lot of them are leaning in the wrong direction right now,” Aalia said.

Despite such obstacles, the leaders of our winter sports teams have remained resolute in their determination to bring the same energy and charisma that has propelled Potomac to its rich history of athletic success. 

“Despite the challenges we’re facing as a team, it really feels like our mentality as upperclassmen and as a team hasn’t really changed. As a team, we say that we’re ‘always looking to score.’ Although we’ve been presented with obstacles no one could have predicted just a year ago, it’s important for us as a team to keep focusing on improving our situation, and finding ways to score as we get closer to our season,” Tommy said.

“The coaches and the rest of the players are eager to feel the adrenaline of the game again. If we’re fortunate to have a season, we will approach it like a normal year: respect everyone, fear no one,” Evelina added.

In the words of senior forward Obinna Chuke, “We have waited all of high school to be able to play sports our senior year because most of us will be captains and will have bigger roles in the team. It would be unfortunate if this season was taken away from us but the health of the community must come first.”