Updated: Jan 22
Although students returned to school on January 11, winter athletes returned to sports in the middle of December. Student athletes are practicing on campus up to six days a week.
Director of Athletics Aaron Abood said that all winter sports are competing with the exception of Indoor Track since there is no available venue to have competitions. All sports teams also practice in the weight room with strength and conditioning coach Brendan Ramsey.
“I’m looking forward to working with everybody and seeing everyone improve.” Ramsey said. “My goal for the season is to keep injury as low as possible.”
Abood said students are required to wear masks at all times. This includes during practice and competition. Additionally Abood said equipment will be sanitized and athletes should distance as much as possible. Precautions will also be taken with transportation. Abood said that athletes will be allowed to drive themselves to competition to reduce the number of students on the buses.
Senior Michael O'Regan plays varsity basketball for Winnacunnet. He said this season’s competition will look fairly different.
“Instead of playing most of the teams throughout the Division I conference, teams are put into separate pods for the regular season that consist of four to five teams.” O’Regan said. “In our pod we will be playing Dover, Exeter, Portsmouth, Spaulding, and possibly Manchester Memorial a couple of times throughout the regular season.”
There are some other changes that have occurred to make sure if a case of COVID-19 does occur, the whole program won’t need to shut down. O’Regan said that in years past, the basketball teams have combined practices. But, this year varsity, junior varsity and freshman teams all have to practice separately to keep exposure contained.
Abood encouraged athletes to be extra cautious during the six weeks of competition to help make sure that the winter sports can have complete seasons.
“The biggest expectation this year comes outside of the sport,” Abood said. “We’ve seen a couple of cases pop up but I think a big part of the success is how responsible the athletes will be outside of practice and competition.”
O’Regan said this is a big concern for him as well.
“One party or get together that involves COVID could flip our hopes to win a state championship,” O’Regan said. “So, we are all taking the right precautions to ensure we have a successful season.”
O’Regan said that even given the restrictions and missed opportunities, the varsity basketball team is shaping up to have a successful season. O’Regan and other athletes said they are grateful for the opportunity to compete, restrictions aside. He said the atmosphere will be different with limited spectators, but team energy is high and they are ready for competition.
“As long as we stay healthy, there’s no doubt in my mind that this team is going to accomplish a lot of goals this season.” O’Regan said. “We are very confident that we can be a successful team in our pod and make a deep playoff run when the time comes in March.”
Staff Photo - Benjamin Merrick
Freshman Drew Marelli competes in hockey game this season.