Imagine walking out to the football field on a cold crisp fall Saturday morning and seeing….absolutely nothing.
No cheerleaders, no fans, no rival stands mocking the other team, no smell of hotdogs in the air, no whistles blowing.
This is the reality of the student athletes of Nassau county and most of the Island. Due to the horrific events of COVID-19 and over 225,000 deaths in the United States, this year’s sports across the country have been pushed back or even cancelled. This is a nightmare for some student athletes who have been dreaming to play their varsity sport since little league and a very difficult decision for Nassau County school administrators. However, to ensure the safety of both students and their families, they felt it necessary. In contrast to those who stand with this decision, many on the island feel differently. People have expressed these views on social media and through local protests. Many schools have been affected by this decision including Bethpage High School.
This ruling has not only affected student athletes but also the coaches. Coaches at Bethpage High School have been stripped of the traditional opportunities to coach athletes for a full regular season.
BHS coaches seem to understand the decision, but may not necessarily be happy about it. One of the coaches impacted by this decision is Mr. Gorman, a boys’ lacrosse coach.
Coach Gorman said, “I understand that it is very difficult especially for student athletes, but I understand the need for safety and distancing as we are still trying to figure out if bringing a lot of students, staff, and coaches back together for the first time in probably a long time is the safest thing.”
He then emphasized that although having traditional sports would be great we are yet to know exactly what the effects are going to be right away. I mentioned the concerns some athletes have been feeling in the idea of college recruitment at this time and how it will be affected.
Coach Gorman said, “It is difficult to say. Speaking from my own sport I do know there were opportunities over the summer that many kids took advantage of. That is club lacrosse and outside of school teams that were going on in the fall so I think those opportunities still exist.”
He, however, also realizes that a kid could “fall through the cracks” in terms of recruiting because they haven’t been seen. This could especially affect those in the junior and senior class due to those years being a crucial recruiting time for most student athletes looking to pursue their sport in college.
Junior year for most high school athletes tends to be the perfect time to start looking into colleges and getting in contact with college coaches. Due to this year’s set back this can be very difficult for some students.
Junior Luke Galgano, a three sport athlete of football, basketball and lacrosse expressed that he is, ¨really upset and was looking forward to playing this season.¨ However, even though Luke disagrees with not having sports he explains that he also understands why. ¨Playing sports in high school is important for many athletes’ futures but I understand that everyone needs to stay safe.¨ Luke stated when asked if he agrees with sports being pushed back. Fortunately, for Luke he is staying active outside of school lacrosse, so he will have a chance to be seen by universities. He mentioned that some parts of the country are able to play right now, giving them an advantage, so he hopes that we start sports like planned in 2021. Other Junior athletes also share the same feelings and emotions as Luke this year.
Junior Giuliana Lavacca, Varsity soccer goalie said that she was, ¨originally I was indifferent about sports being pushed back because I figured I would have more time for schoolwork. However, now I miss having practice every day and playing in games. It feels weird going home right after school.”
Many athletes are being given extra free time due to the cancellation of sports in the fall. Giuliana is participating in a competitive outside of school soccer team. She feels that school sports being pushed back won’t necessarily affect her chances of recruitment for college, “but it will impact others’, especially because Covid placed restraints on college recruiting.¨
Some students aren’t able to receive the same opportunities of outside clubs due to how expensive some can be. This means that school sports are sometimes the only way an athlete can be seen by college programs. Giuliana is hopeful and feels that with the way things are going now that we will be playing sports in 2021 like planned. Hopefully, both of these athletes are correct and we will be able to play sports this Winter.
Senior year is the final culmination of 4 year athletes. Many athletes dream of their senior year and dread the final moments on the field with their teammates. These moments in high school sports will last a lifetime for most of these athletes. This year is very different for these unlucky seniors. These seniors have been potentially stripped of their final and traditional moments playing for their town.
Senior Jenna Parisi, Bethpage Cheerleader and Softball player, is very upset about her senior season being delayed. Jenna stated that she disagrees with the decision of sports being pushed back. Jenna explains that, ¨Yes, keep us safe, that’s why many schools are keeping kids home or doing hybrid learning. We have an advantage here, being that we get to come everyday. But, keeping most kids home and locking them away from their sports? That is completely wrong.¨
It’s evident that this decision is upsetting to most seniors in that they have to go to school without games and practices to look forward to after school. Jenna feels that Section 8 should have gotten, ¨more of an opinion from parents or even students on the matter.¨ Jenna understands the importance of keeping students and faculty safe but questions how sports being cancelled is affecting these athletes’ mental health. ¨Keeping kids out of sports is pushing more people towards depression and other mental health disorders.¨ Jenna explained when asked if she agrees with sports being pushed back. Clearly this is an emotional and important question that should be considered and looked into by school counselors of these student athletes. Jenna mentions that she is not necessarily looking for a softball scholarship but, if she was this situation could potentially affect her chances.
Jenna said, ¨deadlines are now, and within the next month, now preventing me from participating in any NCAA sports in college.¨ This concern perfectly expresses the emotions of athletes that do not have the opportunity to play for an outside team.
Another Senior Ryan Resnick, a three sport athlete of football, wrestling, and lacrosse shares similar emotions to Jenna. Ryan describes his emotions when first finding out that his senior year sports have been delayed as, ¨heartbroken.¨ He, however, feels that ¨at this point Iḿ fine with anything the state is going to give us just give us one more ride.¨ Ryan says that, he personally does not think it was necessary to postpone sports, since professional and college athletes all across the country are being able to play while ¨keeping their cases low.¨
Ryan feels that his recruitment process has been messed up due to Covid. He was unable to play during the spring because of quarantine but hopes that he will receive his exposure to college scouts in the fall. Ryan is staying active this fall by going to the local gym a few times during the week and participating in club lacrosse. Both seniors hope for sports in the Winter and to return to a somewhat normal way of this new life we are experiencing.
We all as a community have to accept and learn how to function in the school and town environment during this new normal. This abstinence of athletics is tragic and I feel for those in their senior year. We should work toward an improved way to play sports this year while maintaining a safe environment. We are fortunate enough to have sports intramurals that consist of modified practices. It’s important to keep in perspective the many lives lost and impacted by this virus.