Alyssa Bui '23
For many, fall sports tryouts and preseason mark the end of summer, taking place during the last two weeks of August. Student athletes dedicate hours of hard work during these weeks to ready themselves for the upcoming fall season, but this year, things looked different.
On July 23rd, NCS Director of Athletics, Heather Dent, sent out an email updating parents and students on sports for the 2020-2021 school year. The email stated that both preseason and tryouts were canceled, but that NCS athletes would still participate in the Independent School League (ISL). It also contained a statement issued by the ISL. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, student athletes have had their sports seasons compromised due to health regulations. As we look towards the new school year, we’ve all been wondering “what happens in the fall?”. Now, the ISL offers an answer: nothing.
The ISL wrote that the 2020 fall sports season would be postponed, and that “[they] hope to resume league competition in January and to provide an interscholastic athletics experience for students in all sports, if possible”. How will this be achieved? The ISL hopes to operate with three shortened competitive sports seasons, each being about 6 weeks long. Equally strange, league competitions will begin with winter athletics, followed by the fall and spring seasons. The ISL’s plan for the 2020-2021 academic year is consistent with that of the DC State Athletic Association (DCSAA), which NCS also competes in. The DCSAA announced its own Condensed Interscholastic Plan for 2020-2021 earlier this summer on July 16th.
For NCS students, athletics play a central role in daily life. Those on competitive teams commit over 10 hours a week to practice, condition, and compete. Because of this large time commitment, teammates forge a strong sense of community. Personally, this sense of community is one of the main reasons why I, like many others, love being on a school team.
Likewise, Kendall Brady ’23 says that being a part of NCS’ cross country and swim team made her feel “plugged-in” to the school community as sports is one of her “most social times of [her] day”. To Brady, sports have become such a huge part of her day that she even stated: “I don’t think I could see what my day would be like without sports”; unfortunately for her and the rest of us, we’ll be having to see what a day without our usual school sports is like in the fall semester.
In the meantime (as of August 28th), some fall sports that usually meet in the summer like crew and cross country have made efforts to prepare for the upcoming seasons. For other fall sports such as volleyball, tennis, soccer, and field hockey, preseason and tryouts seemingly have to wait until after the winter season and when we’re back on campus. Remember to keep an eye on the NCS Close Apart website for updates by the Athletic Department.
With NCS going virtual for the start of the academic year, ISLs are still on the table much to the shock and delight of students. However, some students think that it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to return mid-October, as the school suggests. Others are more optimistic; student athletes hope that we’ll be back on campus for the New Year, just in time for sports. This year will be a unique and strange one in the sense that in-person sports, a graduation requirement, have been eliminated from our daily lives until, at best, January