Media Day: The new Potomac athletics tradition that couldn’t come at a better time


Henry Boehm, Sports Editor

“It’s hard to be a serious Potomac athlete and balance your academics, so if you’re going to play a sport at Potomac competitively, you’ve gotta enjoy it.”, said senior, and former All-American squash player Aalia Husain. 

Aalia’s words could not have been more true in the tumultuous, Covid-19 defined sports season. As Potomac canceled winter sports competition days before winter break, student-athletes had to rely on the joy of practicing their sport with their friends to make up for what, for seniors, would have been their last season of organized sports.

Though athletes and non-athletes alike were hurt in realizing that the long-awaited Flint Hill games and state tournaments would not occur, Potomac’s first-year Athletic Director Erica Woda had a plan to make sure that even without a competitive season, athletes would still have a moment to remember from what has been a season of disappointments.

“We implemented media day to ensure we had great content for all athletes and for our media outlets. We also believe it’s important to capture and commemorate this moment in history. Our athletes work hard and deserve great content,” said Ms. Woda.

She added, “It was important to our staff that everyone was photographed. To make this happen within our pledges’ confines, we had to take their virtual pictures outside. The virtual athletes were incredible sports; luckily, we had access to heat lamps!” 

January 30th, athletes signed up for a time when they could come to the Spangler Center, get dressed in their uniforms, and take individual pictures and action shots. Afterward, they would get together with a couple of their teammates and attend a press conference to answer questions from the school’s student publications.

“I’ve always wished in the past that we could do individualized action shots because all the other schools do, and it looks super cool, so I think this is an awesome opportunity. Given the circumstances, I think Ms. Woda and Ms. Smith have done a fantastic job,” said senior Evelina Swigart.

“I thought it was really nice to have a day for pictures and such, given that our season has been so different. While it certainly didn’t replace playing games and having the student section screaming every second, I thought Ms. Woda did an awesome job,” added senior Obinna Chuke.

While the day undoubtedly gave our athletes the attention they deserved, it does not outweigh the fact that their winter seasons had been disappointing, to say the least.

“It’s been really difficult since wrestling is such a close contact sport. We haven’t really been able to get on the mat or even roll them out, so we’ve been outside the whole time, and it’s been more of a workout than wrestling,” said senior Elie De La Ville.

Elie added, “Our connection with the underclassmen has also been difficult. Especially since wrestling is a sport that has a good amount of people come back each year, it’s important to make connections with the underclassmen to ensure the stability of the program, and it’s been really tough to accomplish that this year.”

“We haven’t met a bunch of the freshmen or sophomores with the grade level restrictions, and it’s been really difficult to get team spirit,” said senior Matthew Granovsky at the boys’ squash panel.

In addition to such dilemmas, teams that were able to practice their sport not only had to overcome a lack of camaraderie, but Covid restrictions that made it hard to forget that their seasons had been shattered.

“We finally got to play some matches, which is nice, but it’s pretty tough to play with masks on, especially with goggles. They can fog up pretty quickly,” said Sophia Egge on the girls’ squash panel.

“It’s been really hard to have to play with restrictions on drills, such as not being able to play defense, which definitely eliminates some of the more competitive aspects of the sport,” said Evelina at the girls’ basketball panel.

In the end, however, it will take more than a few letdowns to deter our athletes from staying positive. With many programs losing key seniors this year, coaches and players are doing everything in their power to not only give the seniors a solid send-off but to prepare for the future. 

Evelina added, “I think the coaches have definitely made more of an effort to make this season more of a fun one for everyone involved, including all the new seniors we have. So it’s definitely different, but not, not fun,”.

Senior Jud Cummings summed it up best on the wrestling panel, saying, “I think this whole situation has made the juniors and underclassmen more motivated for the future because I think they have the opportunity to see how quickly our work can be taken away from us. We’ve put in three solid years, and we still have a lot to show for it, but not having a senior season I think will inspire some of our younger wrestlers, especially our juniors, to focus in on their last year and see what they can accomplish.”

Regarding media day, Ms. Woda has made it clear that this will be the first of many. The athletics department has already planned another media day for March 6th that will cover the fall sports season. 

“This will be a new Potomac Athletics tradition. Long term, the media days will happen during the pre-season. In this format, athletes will be able to share their predictions about the upcoming season. It is important that the Potomac press has access to all of our programs, and holding this event on one day supports that initiative”, said Ms. Woda.