In a year in which routines and daily life have been uprooted, the squeaking of sneakers and pounding noise of the ball hitting the gym floor brought back some normalcy to basketball players at St. Paul Academy. Practicing in a brightly lit, warm gym that juxtaposed the dark, cold evening that sat outside; the team started their captain’s practices to get ready for the season.
Currently, many unknowns remain around the upcoming basketball and other winter sports seasons. On Friday, the SMB Wolfpack football season came to an abrupt end after an outbreak in one of the co-op schools. The school has also moved back to distance learning starting this Monday due to the recent rise in COVID cases in the state of Minnesota. And, the number of cases and hospitalizations per day currently far exceed the numbers that resulted in the cancellation of last year’s spring sports seasons. These events have cast some doubt over whether the winter sports seasons will take place.
However, senior captain Adam Holod said that the team will not focus on the looming chance that the season may come to an abrupt end. Instead, they are going to focus on simply getting better as a team. “We’re just going into the season like it’s going to happen,” he said. “If it changes, then it changes.”
In order to keep the players safe in their preseason practices, the team has followed the rules of wearing their masks and social distancing. Holod said, “We have to social distance when we aren’t playing and have to wear masks at all times. The small gym is also being occupied by the cafeteria which is where the younger kids usually play.”
Last season, the Spartans were led by Holod, who scored over 1,000 points, resulting in a regular-season record of fifteen wins, nine losses, and a third-place finish in the IMAC Conference standings. This upcoming season will certainly provide a challenge for the Spartans. Besides for the obvious adversity that COVID will cause in the season, the team will also be facing a tougher schedule. Their season opener will take place on December 4th, against the defending state champion Minnehaha, whose team features the number one high school player in America, Chet Holmgren. This game will certainly test the Spartans early in the season, however a quality effort against the Redhawks could be a very good sign for the rest of the year.
Until then, the team will continue to prepare for the season, making sure to follow the safety protocols. Holod said, “If it’s safe, let us play.”