A New Season for Fall Sports

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Photo by Grace Park

Boys’ Varsity Soccer practices outside in preparation for upcoming games.

Bia Leffingwell, Staff Writer

This Fall led to several moments of uncertainty as the Lake Forest Academy community started school in a new world due to the pandemic. With the number of cases being concerningly high in the months leading up to the end of 2020, LFA created a PE season for the sports that would usually have games from September through November. This allowed up to 20 practices for the athletes that were itching to get on the field. 

LFA has lived up to the promise of a competitive season for these athletes, though, and they now have a mini-season taking place during the Spring. LFA, the state of Illinois, and several other teams have collaborated to come up with safer ways to host games. For each of the three teams, the season has already proven to be different for many athletes. Paul Makovec, head coach of Boys Varsity Soccer, expressed that the season may be “strange” for the team.   

Makovec highlighted the major differences that the team will have to accustom to, regardless of precautions being taken from the virus, such as new players, locker room conditions, Caxy van concerns, and a need for strengthening the players. With the COVID-19 precautions already handled, Makovec is able to focus on making sure his players get back in shape for the season and continue to bond. These differences have not only changed the way soccer is being played, but also affected the Girls’ Field Hockey, Girls’ Volleyball, and Prep Hockey teams as well. 

One of the main difficulties for all teams currently playing is the increasingly difficult task of bonding whist socially distanced and wearing masks. Kirstin Palasz, a member of the Varsity Volleyball team remarked that “with a new coach and many new players on varsity, it has been a challenge to get to know everyone… we are hopeful that throughout the season this will change” 

Girls’ Volleyball is currently indoors which creates many difficulties with the pandemic. Volleyball players expressed that it is hard to wear a mask during practices as it is much harder to breathe; however, the athletes understand it is the best way to play and keep everyone safe.As soccer and field hockey are being held outside, it feels natural to talk masks off; however, coaches have realized that the only way to keep everyone safe and cases down is to ensure that masks are worn at all times. 

Boys’ Soccer, Girls’ Field Hockey and Girls’ Volleyball will have roughly 10 games, with Prep Hockey already two games into their competitive season. The games will be both home and away and Makovec expresses his and the boys’ excitement and gratitude to be able to play. This feeling is also mutual across the other athletic teams. 

Boys’ Soccer and Girls’ Field Hockey are currently allowed to have spectators at their games, which includes students as well as members outside the immediate LFA community. This allows for the most “normal” feeling for these athletes as they have already endured so many other changes.

Volleyball and Prep Hockey are currently unable to have spectators at the game. Many athletes feed off of that energy that the crowd brings. Palasz stated, “Although having no spectators will be a great loss in terms of energy for the team, it is understandable to keep everyone safe and we would all much rather have a season.” 

With the loss of spectators at these games, the Athletics department has created a excellent option that benefits athletes and any possible spectators. Volleyball and hockey games are now available for anyone to live stream for free. This allows for friends and parents to be able to still watch these games from the comfort and safety of their own homes Free recordings of the games will be available online as well so that families can watch gameplay after the scheduled time.This creates a great alternative that is much safer for the spectators and the athletes.  

The season will be roughly five weeks, with practices and games ending on April 18th for Field Hockey. The other sports have roughly the same schedule. Meredith Norman, Head Coach of Girls’ Varsity Field Hockey, added that all teams and officials will be masked, and the officials will also be using electronic whistles. Soccer and Field Hockey plan to play games both at home and away, and Norman remarked that, “Since we have a great facility we often prefer to host games!” 

There is plenty of positivity circulating around the additional season that the teams have gained. It has been a great privilege for all these athletes to be able to play their sport at LFA under these special circumstances. All members of the teams have expressed their appreciation towards LFA for working hard towards making these games possible. 

 “We’re all just excited to get back out there and play,” Makovec said. Good luck to all teams in their season! 

Girls’ Field Hockey is preparing for their upcoming season as well.