Athletes see winter sports shutdown as challenge
December 15, 2020
With coronavirus cases and positivity rates on the rise after Thanksgiving, the state has shut down all high school winter sports until Jan. 4.
For some teams, the new regulations interrupted a season that had already begun, but for other teams this came right as their season was set to open.
Here is a look at how each of Baldwin’s winter sports teams are being affected by the shutdown. — Lindsay Bonetti
Keith Mincin, wrestling
Freshman Keith Mincin had his varsity wrestling debut delayed by the three-week sports shutdown, and he said it could have big implications for the rest of the season.
The wrestling regular season was set to begin on Wednesday against West Mifflin, but was halted due to the governor’s decision.
“I was super excited to get to wrestle my very first varsity match this coming Wednesday. Everyone on the team has been working out really hard and getting in shape,” Mincin said.
Mincin said the team will continue to stay in shape through this shutdown by doing a workout routine on their own.
“Our team has always been in close contact with the coaches off the mat. We have a workout schedule planned for every day that we have to wait to wrestle our first dual match,” Mincin said.
The WPIAL has made a significant change to help teams when the season restarts, he said.
“After Christmas, every team that competes will get a two-pound allowance for each weight class,” Mincin said.
Staying in their weight classes is a serious task for all wrestlers, and this WPIAL allowance will make that task a little easier.
Lorenzo Shipley, ice hockey
The shutdown of high school sports could threaten the momentum of the undefeated ice hockey team, but instead they plan to use this time off to stay focused on the goal ahead.
The team’s five-game winning streak has been paused due to the three-week shutdown. The other time the team faced a coronavirus shutdown was last spring, and it cost them their bid for the championship, as the Pens Cup game was canceled.
During this shutdown, the hockey team has decided to work on personal growth and staying in shape.
“We’ve told each other to do little things like work out, run, practice shots, stuff like that,” junior Lorenzo Shipley said. “I feel confident we can get through this and we’ll be fine.”
Shipley said he doesn’t understand the sports shutdown or the timing of the announcement.
“I don’t know how I feel. I just know that I don’t get the shutdown of all sports,” Shipley said.
The plan is to reschedule all games that are missed during the shutdown.
Anna Abbiatici, swimming
Senior Anna Abbiatici is disappointed in the disruption to her final year on the swim team, but she feels it’s all for the best.
“Of course I’d like (an uninterrupted) season for my senior year, but it’s important that everyone takes coronavirus seriously,” Abbiatici said.
The swim team was supposed to have its first meet on Monday, but because of the shutdown it has been delayed.
“We were pumped up for our first meet, but this actually isn’t a total disappointment,” Abbiatici said. “Spectators weren’t going to be allowed, so some of the excitement was missing to begin with.”
Abbiatici isn’t sure how the team will keep their skills sharp during the shutdown, but she doesn’t think it will affect their performance.
Jordan Gremba, cheerleading
Junior Jordan Gremba is looking for the positives in the shutdown, calling it an extension of her cheer season, since the majority of the team’s competitions have been moved to March and April.
“Our season normally ends in February, so this is a nice extension to our season. This shutdown will definitely affect our team, but the longer season should cheer us all up,” Gremba said.
Although the shutdown poses issues for the team’s routines, Gremba said the team is resourceful and has a plan in place so they can stay in shape.
“During the first shutdown, we did team workouts through Zoom, and we are hoping to bring that back,” she said.
Although Gremba feels the shutdown was necessary, she said any extension of the shutdown could cause the team to lose some of the essential skills that they have been practicing.
“Stunting is something that we cannot practice alone. We need to get back into the gym to be together,” she said.
Along with practicing through Zoom, the girls are constantly in touch with each other, which Gremba said helps keep spirits high. Through FaceTime and Snapchat, the team checks up on each other and gives reminders about the importance of continuing to practice at home.
“Our team is very close and always motivates each other, so we should not have any problems keeping up the momentum. We always keep each other going and help one another with both cheer and personal problems,” Gremba said.
Jordan Brophy, boys basketball
Junior Jordan Brophy is optimistic that the boys basketball team will be able to bounce back from the three-week winter sports shutdown.
The varsity boys basketball team had only competed in a few scrimmages prior to the shutdown, so they had not yet started their season. In fact, they were supposed to play their first game last Friday, the day before the shutdown started, but it was canceled by their opponent.
“Because our season hasn’t started yet, they plan to extend our season farther into the new year,” Brophy said.” We should be able to make up many of the games we miss.”
Brophy said that because the team should be able to make up the games they will miss during the shutdown, the focus of the team is trying to come out of the break ready to play.
“Our coach is looking at this challenge with optimism, and hopes that we can come out of this break with the intensity we came into it with,” Brophy said.
Because the team is unable to practice together, Brophy said players will have to take the task of staying in shape into their own hands.
“We don’t yet have a set plan on working out, but we are expecting to use Google Meets for workouts,” Brophy said, “For me, staying in shape will have to come from running and putting shots up in my backyard.”
Brophy is worried about the season being cut short, but is optimistic that the team can come back from the break stronger and better than they were before.
Matt O’Malley, inline hockey
With the inline hockey team starting its season with a 10-0 record, sophomore Matthew O’Malley is anxious to get back on the rink.
Although the shutdown of high school sports will keep the team from being able to hold practices, players believe there will be little effect on the team’s momentum and abilities.
“I’m confident that all the players on the team are physically fit and know the game well, so we won’t be affected much,” O’Malley said. “All of the other teams are being affected by this shutdown as well, so everyone is in the same boat.”
O’Malley still plans to practice on his own so he’s ready to play at his full potential when the shutdown ends.
“I will continue to shoot pucks in my driveway and go to outdoor rinks to skate around,” O’Malley said. “I’m sure other players on my team are doing the same things to stay in shape.”
O’Malley has high hopes that all of the missed games will be added to the end of the schedule, and that the playoffs and championships will simply be pushed back a few weeks.
Beatrice Cook, bowling
For senior Beatrice Cook of the bowling team, the winter sports shutdown has a social effect as well as an athletic one.
“Being on the bowling team is so much fun that it’s like a little family to me,” Cook said. “With COVID pushing our season back, it’s like not being able to see your family.”
Cook is a multi-sport athlete, also playing on two softball teams. In normal circumstances, she is always busy, but because of the pandemic and the shutdown, she has a lot more free time.
“The thing about having all this downtime is that I’m not staying as active as I was,” she said. “Most athletes are healthy and active due to their sport. Without it, some just don’t have the same motivation.”
At the start of December, the bowling team had its first competition, against Central Catholic.
“The girls team won against Central Catholic, but the boys team had a tough battle and ended up losing,” Cook said
Since the restrictions have been put into place, the bowling team has been unable to have practices and competitions.
“We haven’t been able to practice or have any more matches due to the shutdown. We are hoping to start back up in January, but all we can do is hope.” Cook said.
Abby Marzina, girls basketball
The three-week sports shutdown went into effect on Saturday, so the girls basketball team did get to play its first game of the season on Friday.
A close loss to Chartiers Valley will push the team to keep working despite the time off, senior Abby Marzina said.
“We will continue to work to get better individually,” Marzina said. “I think our coaches are going to start sending us daily workouts to keep us in shape over the next three weeks.”
While the shutdown is set to last until Jan. 4, Marzina said players recognize that it could potentially last longer. The only way the team will get through it, she said, is with positivity.
“Overall we are obviously upset that they have postponed it, but we are staying optimistic and just hoping for the best,” she said.
The potential for shutdowns or a delay in the season has been on everyone’s mind for a while, she said.
“Just overall Covid has really affected our season, because we have been on edge wondering if they are going to cancel it or postpone it,” Marzina said.
Mia Dougherty, gymnastics
The defending state champion gymnastics team was scheduled to have a meet this coming Monday. That is now pushed back due to the shutdown, but the team remains optimistic about this year going forward.
“I think for the most part we are going to be okay,” junior Mia Dougherty said.
School athletic officials are working to reschedule any missed games or meets in all sports. Still, there is uncertainty in athletes’ minds, due to the nature of the pandemic.
“I’m not sure if the meets will be rescheduled,” Dougherty said. “But there’s hope that they will be when we start up again.”
Since the gymnastics team is unable to practice together, all the players have had to keep up their workouts at home to stay in shape.
“I hope that the team can still do as well as last year,” Dougherty said. “Because it’s not another six-month break from the gym, we will be able to recover faster.”