In person activity makes a return in BCPS

Grace Monacelli and Anna Albergo

Sports came to a sudden halt last March when Baltimore County Public Schools closed schools and offices at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ongoing winter seasons and new spring seasons never got the chance to practice, play, or compete again after the abrupt end in mid-March. Since then, fall and winter sports seasons have been moved to the virtual setting with no in person practices and competitions. Nearly 11 months later, athletes and coaches will return to Dulaney once again for sports.

On Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021, fall sports in Baltimore County returned for a so-called “normal” season, essentially meaning Dulaney teams can play against other BCPS schools again. Though this may have sounded like great news at first, the “fall” season will only last until mid April, and there will be no playoffs or finals for any team. If conditions remain safe, a shortened spring season will begin directly after the conclusion of the fall season, skipping the winter season. In order for teams to have a season at all, there are numerous COVID precautions that are required to be followed, especially with students returning to school in just a few short weeks. 

For all teams masks are required during practices and games, but teams have the option of doing a 3 minute socially distanced “mask break” after every 20 minutes of practice. Masks are required during gameplay on the field and on the sidelines, and are strongly recommended during cross country races. In addition to this, if any games or meets are canceled they will not be rescheduled. For games and meets that are scheduled to happen, spectators are prohibited. This even includes parents and family.  

Another major precaution being taken is that no athletes or coaches besides those of the volleyball, badminton, and cheerleading teams are allowed in the building. But for those who are allowed in the building, there is no locker room or bathroom usage. With students planning to return to the building March 22, it is too big of a risk to let everyone back into the building earlier and disrupt the sanitation process. If athletes choose to go back in the building for hybrid learning, they will still not have access to locker rooms.

Even with numerous precautions, Dulaney athletes and coaches are excited to get back to competition. Junior Abbey Hochrein, now in her third year of volleyball expressed her enthusiasm.

“Our team has a pretty strong bond so it was definitely super awesome to practice with them again in person. Having this connection with my teammates makes the sport so much more fun…Even though a lot of us kept in touch during quarantine, returning to the court with them by my side reminded me of what I missed about the sport so much,” said Hochrein. 

Hochrein’s excitement is shared by returning Junior Sofia Lopez, who is eager to return to her own sport. When it comes to the field hockey girls, she explained, “we have always been a close group, so I definitely missed the team during what would have been our fall season.” 

Michael Wall, head coach of the varsity men’s golf team, reciprocated similar feelings. He expressed excitement to be back with his team and regain a sense of normalcy. 

Similarly, head coach of men’s varsity soccer, Daniel LaHatte said his players’ dedication has influenced his excitement about the season.

It has been incredible to see the student-athletes get outside and show their passion for soccer while making mature decisions regarding health and safety.  Through rain, wind, mud, etc. the young men have displayed a willingness to do whatever it takes to play a sport they love safely,” said LaHatte.

While everyone seems to be on the same page that they are excited to be back playing, there are mixed feelings about starting sports before students return for instruction. Wall said it seems crazy.

On the other hand, Hochrein explained that gradually moving towards the start of hybrid learning might be more beneficial for students. 

“I like the fact that we’re slowly getting back into a schedule rather than throwing us into hybrid learning right away,” continuing on to say that she’s “grateful to be able to ease back into school”

Despite varying opinions on the matter, one thing that’s certain is that the Lions are excited to be back in action!