submitted by Kurt Waltenbaugh
Sports seasons have been altered and shifted at every turn during their 2020 fall seasons. However, most sports are still having sections, and all of them are currently wrapping up their seasons.
The varsity girls’ tennis team wrapped up their season with their second sections match on Oct. 6, where they competed against Breck School. The team’s final record was 9 – 2 placing third in their section. Sophomore Anna Nowakowski felt good about the season overall. “The circumstances were a little tough to deal with at first especially wearing a mask during playing got very difficult but overall I think we adapted to the changes and we didn’t let it affect our game,” she said.
“I would say the season lived up to my expectations, in part because for most of the summer I was unsure if we would have a season,” sophomore Autumn Spalding said.
Despite the sometimes discouraging circumstances, the team managed to keep their spirits up and support each other. “I think this season exceeded my expectations because we did really well and there was still a bit of normalcy amongst the chaos,” Nowakowski said.
The fact that the team got a season at all was exciting enough to make up for any changes. “I would say the season lived up to my expectations, in part because for most of the summer I was unsure if we would have a season,” Spalding said.
The boy’s varsity soccer season ended with a record of 4-4-2. The final game of the season was against the first seed, Holy Angels, on Oct. 15. Senior Michael Bagnoli wished the team had made it further in sections, but thought they had a good season overall. “As the season progressed we got better and better and by the end of the season, we were playing our best soccer,” Bagnoli said.
The hardest part of the season for Bagnoli was the lack of fans in the stands. “We all enjoy being cheered on by our friends and family and we’re used to having that kind of support so it was difficult at first to adjust to the limited amount of people that could watch our games,” Bagnoli said.
Along with a lack of fans, the loss of traditions was tough on the team. “We did not get to take our annual trip to Camp Friendship, have team dinners, or go to Buca the night before our first game of the season,” Bagnoli said.
Although the team faced many challenges, Bagnoli had a great season and is happy with how it turned out. “I think I speak for the team when I say that we had a great time regardless and that we are proud of how we did,” he said.
Although he is graduating, Bagnoli is excited to see how the team does next year, “We return a lot of talented kids and we are sure to be a force next year,” he said.
Boys varsity soccer plans to celebrate the end of their season by having a mini outdoor banquet after their last practice, with parents and players.
The cross country team was pretty lucky as far as seasons go. The team ended their season having placed first in two meets, second in two, and third in one. Overall, they placed second at conference championships, and third at section finals.
The season wasn’t perfect by any means, but it surpassed the team’s expectations. “For the whole team, we went into the season hoping to have some practices and a couple of meets and ended up having a successful season with more meets than we expected,” sophomore Becca Richman said.
Like many teams this year, the team felt the effects of a shortened season. “The season was about a month shorter than normal and felt like it went by in the blink of an eye,” Richman said.
Despite all the challenges that came with the 2020 cross country season, the team pushed through. “It wasn’t the easiest season by any means, but the team continued to work hard and stayed motivated and positive despite the circumstances,” Richman said.
The girls’ varsity soccer season finished with a record of 2-6-2. A highlight for the team this season was beating Breck 1-0 for the first time in a few years. The team also won against Providence, who they had lost to earlier in the season.
The shortened season and lack of practice over the summer combined with a smaller team than usual made games more strenuous. “Most of us played the entire game and if not the entire game most of the game, so at first it was a struggle to get everyone in good enough shape to be able to run the full 80 minute,” junior Mia Hoffman said.
Once the team got in better shape, their game improved significantly. “Our pass connection throughout the field improved and we set ourselves up for more goal scoring opportunities,” Hoffman said.
The main changes that came with COVID-19 were a shortened season, and wearing masks during practices. “[Wearing a mask] was hard to get used to at first because it was hard to breathe, but as the weather cooled down and we became more acclimated it got easier,” Hoffman explained.
While the season wasn’t perfect, the team was lucky to have a season at all, as many teams around the country didn’t have one. “It was an amazing privilege for us to have any games or practices at all. We obviously would have preferred to have our normal amount of games, especially because it was the seniors last season, but we all understood the precautions and were grateful to have any season at all,” Hoffman said.
Sparks Swim and Dive hasn’t finished their season yet, and have high hopes for sections. “We are 2nd in our conference, meaning we have won all our dual meets so far except for Central,” said senior Noor Christava.
Sparks has potentially faced the most changes due to COVID-19 of all the teams. “Our meets have been very different than past years because they are at our own pool, there are no spectators, and we don’t actually get to see or race our competition,” Christava said.
Although meets were unconventional, Sparks swimmers have done very well this season. “There have been several personal records and even a couple conference records broken this season. On top of that, it seems like everyone has been able to maintain a positive attitude,” Christava said.
As with all the teams this season, Sparks has found that a good attitude and team spirit are crucial in such a strange and different season. “I think that we have maintained our team spirit and unity which will still make this season memorable,” Christava said.
Sparks Swim and Dive are competing in sections on Oct. 24 at Edina.
This story was originally published in the October 2020 print edition.