Sports and fitness during the pandemic

The Eastern Independent League may have cancelled the season, but sports and fitness continue at Dana Hall. The Athletic Department has made many changes, like the switch from Varsity and Junior Varsity teams to A and B teams.

The athletics department had to figure out how to include everyone while knowing that everyone couldn’t be included, finding instructors that would be comfortable teaching during this time, and making schedule adjustments to be compatible with different time zones.

Associate Director of Athletics Janet Sullivan said, “We didn’t think it was fair to have a Varsity and JV when we had boarders that couldn’t come to campus or international kids. For example Cici Wang ’22 was on the Varsity Volleyball team and has been since freshman year; we couldn’t really have a Varsity team knowing she wasn’t here to be part of it.” With four days of practice on campus per week and no games, athletes are getting more time to improve their skills without the high stakes of being on Varsity or JV, which makes Ms. Sullivan hopeful for next year. 

 Girls on their sports teams feel like they are losing motivation to practice at their top-level because of not having a fall sports season. Field hockey player Anna Hamilton ’22 says, “especially since we don’t have games, it’s hard to stay motivated to get better.” New Varsity Soccer coach Rachel Wood agrees that “playing is the most fun part.” 

With new coaches for Soccer and Field Hockey, the change of style and the way that the practices are run is challenging to those who have been on the team for a long time. Changes included Volleyball’s beginning to practice outside, while Soccer saw many changes to the rules, consisting of no heading, no throw-ins, and modified corner kicks in order to minimize intermittent contact between the players. 

One other area that the Athletic Department had to figure out a plan for was fitness. Evi Booth ’22, “who started off as a hybrid student but is now fully remote,” is taking fitness as her extracurricular requirement. Evi’s fitness class meets on Mondays and Thursday from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM only when cohort D is on campus, but she has the option to go to class during cohort D’s remote week. She said the class works so that “you have to position your camera so they can see your whole body. There is a list of workouts, and you go through that and do sets of it over and over again. Each exercise is 30 seconds.” Evi took fitness last year for the two trimesters, and she described the difference as “I feel like it’s easier in a way because you’re at home. You’re in your own environment but I also miss the gym because it gives me motivation to workout.”

Prior to October 13, since the cohorts did not mix during the week, there was one virtual day for everyone. Ms. Sullivan said, “We wanted the fifth grade to twelfth grade to connect as one big program and try to encourage everybody to realize that every sport is one program.” Rachel Wood expressed that in the first couple weeks of hybrid, while one half of her team was online and the other was on the field, the team did not feel cohesive and connected.

Ms. Kimball seconded that, and said that she was worried for the 9th and 10th graders who were combining with the older player because they had grown comfortable in a more concentrated group among their peers. But she said that Cohort H was able to find their voices earlier on the team because they did not have an influence from more veteran players on the team. Ms. Kimball, along with the entirety of the Athletic Department, are excited to make the next step in seeing Dana Hall sports take steps back to normalcy during this challenging time.

Photos by Adam Richins.

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