Playing from Home: Student-Athletes’ Perspective on Pandemic

Athletics have been the backbone of Morris Hills culture for years now. The spring season, in particular, brings about a wave of excitement like no other. As the school year dwindles down and the championship season heats up, Morris Hills spirit is on full blast. Each team has its signature moments of the spring season: the lacrosse teams blasting hype music on the loudspeaker at Gifford Field, the baseball and softball teams celebrating big wins, and the track and field team hosting the annual Morris Hills Relays. However, this year’s spring season has been cut short due to COVID-19. Lasting a mere week, this year’s spring season was unable to garner the same attention and excitement as it usually does. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, coaches and players alike have been finding creative ways to maintain athletics at Morris Hills.

Senior Day is one of the most popular events for Morris Hills athletics. This sentimental showcase is a way for the Morris Hills community to thank its seniors for all the hard work they have put in throughout their high school career and also wishing them luck on their post-Morris Hills endeavors. This event typically culminates in a rush of emotions for the seniors, ranging from joy to nostalgia at the realization that their time at Morris Hills is coming to an end. Under quarantine, it seemed that this valuable day would not be celebrated, but the coaches and players decided the show must go on. 

The freshman, sophomores, and juniors on the girls lacrosse team created posters for their seniors and drove to their houses to deliver them. The posters were decorated with personalized pictures of the seniors’ athletic career at Morris Hills and highlighting their best moments. Junior Lizzie Seligmuller said, “Making the posters was so much fun and the seniors deserved a proper send off. I’m glad we were able to find a way to still celebrate Senior Day because I know this day means so much to them.” She created a poster for senior Olivia Maute and described Maute’s reaction as “super joyful. Seeing all the highlights from Liv’s time as a goalie for the lacrosse team brought back really good memories for her.” In addition, the lacrosse team had a Zoom call with the entire program to honor the seniors. 

The girls track and field team has been utilizing available resources to remain active and engaged as a team. Coach Herman stated, “We have been posting workouts throughout quarantine for each event group and providing modifications for technical events, such as using chairs to stretch over a ‘hurdle.’ We also have been hosting Core O’Clock Workouts on Google Meet so we engage in some FaceTime. We also designed and distributed t-shirts to commemorate this extraordinary season.” 

Coaches Struck and Robinson have been keeping their runners and throwers active through posts on Google Classroom as well. They are attempting to maintain the motivation that pushes the runners and throwers to continue the “tradition of excellence.” As such, many people have practiced individually in a similar structure to the practices that would occur if school was open. Akshay Rau said, “My coaches and fellow teammates have done a really good job of keeping me motivated. In a time like this, it may be difficult to find the motivation to practice on your own, but I know that my coaches and teammates have my back, and that is really helpful. It’s also an interesting experience to run around my neighborhood and at the parks on a daily basis, instead of running at Gifford.” While Rau has done a great deal of practice on his own, he still feels that he’s missing an element when he runs. He said, “It sucks not being able to run with my boys on the distance crew. Going through workouts with each really brought us together as a team. Maybe when the restrictions ease up, we can meet up and run together in a socially distant manner.” 

Nick Laux expressed similar thoughts in regards to the baseball team. The drills posted by Coach Giovine are focused on improving swing and other exercises that can be done around the house. Laux stated, “I miss the little things, like playing catch with my teammates and having a good time with my teammates in the dugout. Practice from home has been helpful, but I can’t wait to get back on the field.” Coach Rosenberg has similarly issued drills for his golf players via Google Classroom. The drills primarily revolve around swing practice and other activities that are easy to complete in the house. 

Overall, Morris Hills students have continued to show resilience in the face of disaster, with athletes doing their best to celebrate their seniors and stay active through at-home workouts. Although seniors have missed out on their final season as a Morris Hills athlete, we hope that students will be able to play once regular activities resume.