Girls hockey faces challenges through team bonding, mask wearing

Team unity during a pandemic isn’t easy, especially when over half of the players are new. SPA’s girls’ varsity hockey co-op team adds Minnehaha into the mix this year replacing Visitation. Many of SPA’s players are also new to the school which adds challenges with team bonding amidst the struggles of wearing masks and social distancing.

Aurelia Meza, a new ninth-grader at SPA, described how difficult connecting as a team can be, especially during this time. “This year we’re bringing in 2 groups that have never played together which is kinda tough but I would say that we’re starting to bond and come together as a team,” she said.

Charlotte Goings, new to SPA like Meza, said that the pandemic has made her realize how grateful she is to finally be able to play hockey and how she has learned to not take it for granted.
Being new is hard enough, but during a global pandemic, meeting new people and making those essential connections is burdened by the weight of mask-wearing and social distancing.

Goalie Greta Magnuson, another player who is new to the team, said COVID-19 makes it, “very difficult to get to know the new players since we can’t hang out in the locker rooms before and after practice along with all of the added restrictions making it difficult as well.” The team also had to rush into the season despite only having two weeks of practice before their first game, yet they still won.

Unfortunately, several players acquired COVID-19, which resulted in a two-week quarantine for the entire team. This, however, did not stop the team from coming back strong and winning three out of the five games that they have played so far. The pandemic, however, has been a conflict of interest between the two schools.

Meza says she was surprised by “the fact that people were willing to do anything to the governor to let people play sports even when it wasn’t safe and how those same people are now complaining because we have to wear masks while in sports.”

Meza, like many other players, experiences the first-hand challenges of teams not willing to comply with the COVID-19 safety protocols. Many of the schools that the SPA-Minnehaha co-op team plays either don’t have masks or wear them below their chin where they aren’t protecting anyone. This irresponsibility is challenging since everyone wants to stay safe during this difficult time.

Despite all of the new challenges this year has thrown at the team, they are coming together and getting to know each other, creating success on the ice. Though the team will continue to face challenges, the players are confident that they can make anything work, and hope to win many more games in the coming weeks.