A reflection on Fall PE sports


Photo by Stefano Maida

LFA Varsity Soccer Boys practice safe social distancing during their preseason practices.

Bia Leffingwell, Staff Writer

Through a time of hardship, LFA Athletics made several adjustments to the conditions that the Caxys have been placed in. These adjustments were customized to each sport, but because of the current IHSA regulations, the usual Fall season was turned into a Physical Education season. Several sports, with the exception of a few teams, were able to practice a number of times, but they were not in any games. This means that those sports are set to compete later in this school year in order to provide full safety. 

This outcome had both positive and negative effects on the players, coaches, and teams as a whole. The three teams that were heavily impacted by were Girls’ Volleyball, Girls’ Field Hockey, and Boys’ Soccer. For each individual, practicing three to five times per week without any games meant very different experiences than what they had previously been used to.

Stefano Maida ‘22, a junior on Varsity Boys’ Soccer, said, “I felt like the PE season was a success because we were able to go out and do what we love doing while staying safe and following protocols. I would say it was definitely a positive experience for my team because we were all able to meet new members of the squad, and introduce some of the incoming freshmen to this school. We were also able to enjoy being together, and playing soccer.” 

Paul Makovec, Head Coach for Varsity Boys’ Soccer, noted that, “It was a welcomed change from the past few months of seclusion. It was a really positive experience for our boys to take the season lightly without the seriousness of games. As coaches, we had the flexibility to carry a larger roster, experiment with some drills during training, and to just approach the PE season with the goal of having as much fun as possible.” 

Volleyball and field hockey players and coaches were also pleased with the experience. Though each team took advantage of the extra season in different ways, the overall idea was similar. 

Mimi Osborne ‘22, a junior on Girls’ Varsity Field Hockey, said that, “The fall PE season was a good opportunity to participate in sports without fully committing to a team. It provided a nice chance for new athletes to see what sport works best for them. [It] was a great chance to get adjusted to the new dynamics and give new players an opportunity to grow.” 

Emily Kalis, Assistant Head Coach of Girls’ Field Hockey, also added: “I felt great about the PE season. It was an extremely positive experience for our team! Since it was a PE and not a competition season, we were able to focus on team bonding, having fun and practicing the basic skills. As a coach, I looked forward to practice every day because of the positivity and energy that were exhibited by the players.” 

Girls’ Volleyball was most impacted, as their dynamics for practicing were drastically different. The volleyball team was moved from the gym to the Quad for safety precautions. 

Kirstin Palasz ‘22, a junior on the team, said, “It was hard for all the volleyball players to adjust to playing outside, as it is a different sport, but I was grateful that we got to play at all. I thought that it was an effective way to have us play even with all the regulations we had to follow. Towards the end of the season as we figured out the best way to practice, it became much more positive as we figured out how to be in the gym.” 

Becky Arrowood, Head Coach of Girls’ Volleyball this season, was also able to find positives through the difficulty. She said, “I was very happy that we were able to run this PE season for volleyball. The girls were looking forward to being together and playing just as much as I was looking forward to having the students’ energy and excitement back on campus. I viewed it as a bonus season for the girls. I do believe it was a positive experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat for the girls.”

The PE Season cannot be deemed as perfect, as there were also downsides as well. Although, none of these negatives ever seemed to outweigh the positives.

Maida noted that his team unfortunately lost a critical player, which made the end of the season a bit less positive. Osborne added that for Field Hockey, there was a lack of players, which made the season a bit rough in the start. Palasz said that the lack of games and practicing in a new environment was difficult. 

Arrowood added, “Unfortunately, we were at the mercy of the weather. Some days we couldn’t be outside because of rain, while other days we couldn’t be inside because it was too hot!”

These downsides were out of the control of several individuals on the team, as was the elephant in the room that led to this entire season– the Coronavirus. The PE Season was strictly created in reaction to the virus taking over normal life as we had previously known it. The goal of this season was to create a system in which teams could practice safely and healthily. 

With these three sports being practiced outside, there was immediately a smaller concern about a high concentration of players in practice. Athletes were given gaiters from LFA Athletics, which were enforced by coaches. Several safety precautions were set in place: daily temperature checks, outdoor practicing, distancing as much as possible, and wearing masks at all times. 

“I didn’t think it was all that safe at the start,” Maida said, “but then we got the news that there were zero positive cases, and that’s when everyone on the team, as well as myself, felt a lot safer.” 

In a final reflection, each individual was pleased with what they were able to do, as they all love the sports they committed to. Even with the hard aspects, there was plenty of enthusiasm. 

Maida would like to remind the LFA community that, “In order to continue playing and representing this school, everyone should wash their hands, wear their masks, and stay safe, so that we can hopefully start playing games during the spring season.”

Kirstin Palasz ‘22 plays volleyball indoors while wearing her mask at all times. However, quite soon into the season, practices were moved outside for even safer play. (Photo by Bia Leffingwell)
Mimi Osborne ‘22 is able to safely play Field Hockey by wearing her mask and maintaining a safe distance from others. (Photo by Bia Leffingwell)