Fall sports cut short but most athletes are grateful for the chance

Meg DeTitta

In mid-November, Westwood High School announced that it would be going full remote for two weeks, which also ended all fall sports seasons. The seasons were already shortened under NJSIAA COVID-19 guidelines, so the remote learning announcement brought the school to the end of fall sports practices and games.

This year, fall sports ran different than usual by adhering to guidelines put in place due to COVID-19. Most fall sports had limited practice time, less than ten games, and unique game-time experiences. For coin tosses, one captain could participate and for the rest of the game, no players could come near or speak with the referees.

Players had to wear masks any time they were not on the field practicing or playing their sport. Every fall sport had shorter practices six times a week.

“Before night games we would usually get dinner and watch film but this year we weren’t allowed to do that,” says 17-year-old Noah Chang, a Westwood senior on the boys varsity soccer team. It definitely made the season feel completely different. It wasn’t the same

Most athletes were pleased with the opportunity they had, knowing that many schools decided to completely opt out of all fall sports., the idea of fall sports ending so abruptly was not planned, but it was expected in such a fluid environment.

Caelan Brown, a senior on the girls’ varsity soccer team found it hard to maintain a positive attitude towards the situation. “I had a lot of hope that the season would go on but as new cases popped up I kind of was over the season. It was hard to maintain hope, then losing it, all to try and regain it again over and over. I definitely was upset when the season ended but I was expecting it.”

“I kind of expected it to end abruptly. I sort of prepared myself to act like every game was my last because of how unpredictable these times are. It’s sad but it’s reality,” says Claudia Rivera, a junior on the varsity field hockey team.

The NJSIAA and Governor Murphy called off any state tournaments or league and county games before the fall season began, and also released later start times and early end times for each sport.

Many athletes think that there could have been something more to protect fall sports so athletes could still play in case the school would shut down.

“I think that it should be heavily suggested that student athletes who want to play and lessen their risk of exposure should choose to go all remote so they aren’t exposed to any potential cases in the school,” Brown says.

For seniors especially, this is not how many wanted to see their sport end. 

“After hearing the news of the season being shut down, I felt empty. Playing football for this school for the past four years have been the best times of my life. I am still emotional about it, and I don’t think I’ll be better for a while. Luckily I’m playing in college but I feel for everyone else who won’t put on their uniforms ever again,” senior Ian Borgersen says, quarterback of the Westwood varsity football team. 

Although the fall sports season came to an early end at Westwood, students are thankful and appreciate all the hard work put in by the coaches, referees, their teammates, fellow athletes and the school district for making the 2020 Fall sports season possible.