After a Return to Sports in the Fall PV Looks Forward to Winter Season

Devyn DiPasquale’21

 

After a successful return to sports this fall, Passaic Valley is now gearing up for the upcoming winter season. The fall season brought many new restrictions and regulations. Coaches, players, and fans can expect the same for the winter season.

After the state-wide shut down in March and the cancellation of all spring sports, the return to sports in the fall became a focus of the school and many athletes. It was vital to establish guidelines to ensure the safety of the athletes and prevent the spread of COVID-19. “My number one priority is providing our students with a healthy and safe environment for co-curricular activities,” said Athletic Director Joseph Benvenuti. “We have a responsibility to keep everyone safe, but, at the same time, it pains me to see so many students losing out on the great experiences being altered by COVID-19.” 

Although most fall sports began as normally scheduled, the indoor sports, volleyball and gymnastics, were moved to the spring and added as a fourth season due to the inability to follow COVID-19 guidelines indoors. The Governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy, recently signed an executive order to allow indoor sports to resume in the winter with specific restrictions and guidelines. The schedules for winter sports are in the process of being finalized with new rules so that indoor sports can occur in a safe manner. Mr. Benvenuti explained that the new regulations would include “Less contact, smaller 

attendance for practices and games when possible, wearing masks, social distance, fewer spectators (or possibly no spectators) and more are what we can expect if and when the indoor winter sports take place.”

“We had a different drive once the season started. Going through this tough time with my team only made us closer,” said senior football player Antonio Bargiel. “It made us want to work harder. Knowing, especially as seniors, that our season could stop at any point made us both nervous and eager to get on the field. Coach Wassel makes it clear to us every time we stepped on the field that it could possibly be our last and never take anything for granted.”

Fall sports were also a way for the athletes to come together after such a long time apart. The resumption of sports allowed the students and the community to have something to look forward to. “We are seeing and learning about adversity firsthand with this virus and the negative effects it is having on our world,” said Mr. Benvenuti. “Providing our athletes with the opportunity to practice, play and compete will at the very least allow them to feel some sort of normalcy in their lives.”

With the preparation for the fall season being so intensive, even more planning for the winter can be expected.  Given that winter sports take place indoors, more restrictive guidelines will have to be established. “The amount of planning, safety measures, collaboration, and scheduling that took place during the months of June, July and August is incomprehensible,” said Mr. Benvenuti. “The NJSIAA, along with Athletic Directors and the NJ Medical Advisory 

Board worked diligently to devise safe return to play protocols and procedures.” 

Regardless, winter athletes remain hopeful and are looking forward to their seasons. “When the season was approved by the Governor, I was so excited,” said senior basketball player Taylor Hill. “Knowing that basketball could be taken from us at any point will make me work a thousand times harder, because any game could potentially be my last ever. I really push myself to make the best of every game and practice from day one because it could all end in the blink of an eye. For this season the saying ‘leaving it all on the court’ will always be in the front of my mind.” 

The Passaic Valley community is looking forward to future sports seasons and remains hopeful that the student-athletes will have the chance to continue to participate in the sports that they love. “I am just grateful for each opportunity our students get this school year. In a world where so much is being lost due to this pandemic, I find great joy in watching our athletes compete, learn, and hopefully appreciate how precious time is!” concluded Mr. Benvenuti. “We never know what is around the corner so we must learn to enjoy each opportunity and treat it like it is our last.”

 

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