When the Ethical Culture Fieldston School closed its campuses in March, student athletes were left to contend with confusion and disappointment as their seasons came to a halt. But instead of giving up in the face of so much uncertainty, the athletes banded together and found strength in their community. Here, seven students share their reflections on an anything-but-normal season.
Jordan N. ’23, Lacrosse
Virtual lacrosse was difficult because we did not get the chance to truly embody the sport, but virtual was a great way for team bonding and getting to know each other. I feel in the end we were much closer as a team. We did have some workouts and watched old games, which were all successful ways to keep the sporty side of it. However, looking at it from a true athlete’s perspective, lacrosse was not very present in the virtual world.
Virtual lacrosse made me feel a part of my team, allowed me to form a relationship with my coaches, and gave me new friendship opportunities.
Community was very present on our team. We did a lot of bonding and icebreakers, whether it was Pictionary or simply going around and introducing ourselves. Virtual lacrosse made me feel a part of my team, allowed me to form a relationship with my coaches, and gave me new friendship opportunities.
Virtual lacrosse was a space I always looked forward to attending after a long and tiring day of school work. I play lacrosse not only for the sport aspect, but also because it gives me a way to take my mind off of school work and be in a mindset where I can just have fun and relax.
Vale M. ’21, Lacrosse
Because it was such a turbulent time, simply being together in Google Meet was somewhat comforting. The central theme of our practices was about self-care, making sure that we were taking care of ourselves and maintaining strength (often equating physical strength with emotional strength). Therefore, I felt as though the practices were very successful. We often led our own practices, which allowed us to tailor them to what kind of strength/support we all needed.
It gave me a routine, which helped me feel organized and significantly bettered my mental health.
Some practices, we were collectively more energetic and wanting to engage. Other days, we were exhausted and annoyed and preferred to be silent. Either way, we showed up, and, in the context of what was occurring in each of our lives, I think that was a success and a constant reminder that you had a community to call upon if you needed or wanted to.
Attending virtual practice helped remind me how integral exercise is in my daily life. It gave me the drive to get off my couch and get some positive endorphins. I would exercise within these times and outside in my own time. Additionally, it gave me a routine, which helped me feel organized and significantly bettered my mental health.
Cameron K. ’21, Lacrosse Team Captain
It goes without saying that the team would have loved to have had a normal spring season, but as disappointing as virtual practice was, I think it was successful. Part of what made the switch successful was the makeup of our team. Thankfully, our lacrosse program is lucky enough to have both a varsity and a JV team. This means that the girls on the varsity team are not only skilled but also enthusiastic about being on the team. Because of this, our team practices were seldom boring and quiet. On Mondays, two team members would lead a full-body workout, and on Wednesdays, we would invite a girls varsity lacrosse alum who went on to play in college to talk to us about that experience. Overall, we accomplished a lot during our weekly practices.
I turn to the lacrosse team for a sense of community and support.
Maintaining a sense of community during the spring was definitely something the other captain and I struggled with. When we first went virtual, the team thought about doing a movie night/virtual team dinner, but we just couldn’t decide on a time that worked for everyone. In an effort to include everyone (more than 20 girls!) we limited our team bonding time to scheduled practices. Outside of virtual practice, we all communicated in a text group chat, where we would send workout ideas, memories from last season, and even funny lacrosse TikTok videos. I wish we could have been able to have planned a team movie night, but given the circumstances, everyone had different schedules and priorities.
Being a part of the lacrosse team is a huge part of my identity as a Fieldston Upper student. Anyone will tell you that I’m certainly not the best player on the team, but what I lack in skill, I make up for in team spirit. Part of this is because outside of lacrosse, I’m a very competitive equestrian. Horseback riding is an individual sport which can at times be lonely. Therefore, in the spring, I turn to the lacrosse team for a sense of community and support. While our season last spring was anything but normal, knowing that I had a home on the team among over 20 amazing members helped soothe my anxiety around the uncertainty of COVID-19.
Sophia H. ’22, Lacrosse
I think that the switch from in-person school and sports was hard for everyone. Almost overnight, we went from running around on a field to doing workouts over Google Meet — and that was very difficult. I definitely was more upset about that switch than others on the team considering that I had been waiting all year for the lacrosse season and it’s my favorite sport. Coach DiToro and Coach Spalding did the best they could given the circumstances, and after a while, online practices felt more routine and natural.
Staying active and looking forward to practice was really helpful for both my physical and mental health.
Before every workout or activity that we did online, we always had time to talk to each other and get to know each other better, which I thought was really important because (hopefully) we’ll have a similar team this year and now we all know each other pretty well already! We also used our text group chat a lot and got to know each other through that as well.
Staying active and looking forward to practice was really helpful for both my physical and mental health. Even if practice wasn’t super exciting, it was still something non-academic to look forward to, which I really appreciated. Of course, this could be different for people that don’t love the sport as much as I do.
Declan S. ’23, Baseball
The group of guys we had this year on the squad were all very special. I was a freshman on the team and only got a taste of how much fun it was to be an Eagle and compete as a family. The eight seniors on the team welcomed me from day one with open arms; I was learning every day, and I felt like I was at home. During our first scrimmage game, we got the sad news that campus was closing, and we all figured that was the last time we were stepping on the field as a group for that season. Sadly, we were right. It was tough being a freshman: just getting settled in, then a virus takes away your season. At the same time, I can only imagine what the seniors were feeling. Most of them will never step on the field again, and they do not deserve that at all. Furthermore, we know that more serious things than interrupted sports were going on around this country and the world so we kept our situation in perspective.
The eight seniors on the team welcomed me from day one with open arms; I was learning every day, and I felt like I was at home.
During the spring, we maintained the brotherhood vibes that we had from day one. We did the annual talent show for all new players virtually, and it was a blast. Coach Marro held virtual meetings almost every day after school with motivational speeches, workouts, and baseball IQ Kahoots. It was so much fun to see my guys every night, and it felt like nothing had changed. We watched a ton of films during the meetings, and we studied swings, cuts, dirt ball reads/base running, and energy on the field.
These virtual practices were incredibly helpful. They inspired me, and I was able to watch some of my favorite MLB players while improving my baseball IQ. On top of everything, I felt terribly for Coach Marro. He grinds his tail off day and night and looks forward to the season every single year. He coached both of my brothers who went on to play at D1 baseball programs, and they will still say Marro is indescribable and their favorite coach they have ever had. Coach Marro deserves the world and most definitely deserves a ring, and I promise to never stop working until I achieve that goal for him.
Ryan S. ’22, Baseball
Our team is always really close during the season, but this season was obviously different from any previous season. In addition to the virtual practices, our team did a good job staying connected using social media. Our upperclassmen did a good job of reaching out to other players on the team to help keep everyone connected.
Virtual practices were a great way to help keep everyone motivated and engaged during remote learning and quarantine. I think quarantine was a pretty lonely experience for everyone, so having a time to come together every day with the team was something everyone looked forward to and enjoyed. It gave a sense of normalcy to something that was anything other than normal. I think it generally helped to keep everyone’s spirits up during what was a long couple of months.
I think quarantine was a pretty lonely experience for everyone, so having a time to come together every day with the team was something everyone looked forward to and enjoyed.
I think the virtual practices were rewarding to the team, especially in terms of team chemistry. Although they didn’t help us with our actual skills, I think the virtual team practices will definitely have a positive effect on the team next year. If we had just written away the season, the team would have come back next year with no chemistry, and we would have had to focus on re-bonding as a team. The virtual practices will hopefully allow us to carry the chemistry we had from the year before into this upcoming year with less of a hitch than we would have been able to do without the practices.
Ben B. ’21, Baseball
After the season was canceled, the team spent a lot of time texting over our team group chat about the season. It was of course very sad news for the team, especially the seniors. But after a few weeks of quarantine and getting acclimated to the new conditions of the spring, we began team meetings. Each week, there was a day dedicated for a workout, a day of online baseball lessons for each specific position, and a day to bring in alumni who played baseball in high school to talk about their baseball experience, whether they were alumni from Fieldston or from other NYSAIS schools who went on to play college baseball. This included Harrison Bader, a Cardinals center fielder who graduated from Horace Mann. All of these meetings helped the team stay connected.
During such an unusual time, being able to get on those virtual meetings was the highlight of those long days after sitting in classes on my computer.
I made varsity baseball as a sophomore, and the camaraderie of the team is so special. The dynamic of the team is special because everyone is so close with each other. During such an unusual time, being able to get on those virtual meetings was the highlight of those long days after sitting in classes on my computer. They made me much more connected with my teammates. Baseball has always been my way of getting my mind off schoolwork and stress, and so even though we weren’t actually playing baseball, the virtual practices helped me to connect with the team and distract myself for the hour we were on the meetings for.
I think what was most successful was that everyone always got on the meetings if they could, and everyone stayed engaged with the online meetings, even after a long day of staring at a computer screen. Our coaches did a good job of getting everyone involved and keeping things interesting and fun during the meetings, even though we were not playing baseball. Overall, for the circumstances we were in, our coaches did a good job of organizing and running meetings.