PFHS Winter Sports Tryouts Underway


Virginia High School League charters first sports season since Coronavirus shutdown

Winter sports teams will begin their tryouts starting Dec 7, marking the return of high school athletic programs after a nine month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The winter season will be the first sanctioned by the VHSL this school year, with the fall programs pushed back until Feb 15 amidst growing concerns over the spread of the virus. 

The return of high school sports was long fought for by many athletes and their families, with the ‘Let Them Play’ movement gaining massive momentum as Virginia communities demanded the immediate initiation of the fall season. For some athletes, however, the beginning of their season is met with concerns over the safety of being in close range with their teammates. “In all honesty, I am terrified about starting the season,” said co-captain of the swim team, Jocelyn Nichols. “I think there is a fine line between figuring out a way to continue group activities and taking precautions about the Coronavirus.” 

Swimmers are unable to wear masks during their practices, so Nichols believes that social distancing will be imperative in protecting against transmission of the virus. “It is going to have to be something we are all conscious of.” 

In response to strict safety guidelines, tryouts will be reformatted to reduce the amount of athletes present in confined areas. Girls Varsity basketball tryouts will be split by grade levels -with freshman and sophomores in one session and juniors and seniors in another- marking the first time athletes will be separated during the tryout process. “We’ve never had tryouts like that before,” said Varsity center and Randolph- Macon College commit, Paige Anderson. “It will be strange not being able to see all the younger kids and what their skills are, but it will be good for the coaches so they [can] have more time to watch everyone equally.” 

The swim team will be divided by gender during their tryouts, a first as well for the program. 

One of the biggest changes to this season due to social distancing mandates is the absence of spectators at competitions. For some programs, the loss of a high energy spectator section will be a big change throughout the season. However, Anderson believes that the girls’ team will find a way to match the energy they brought to the court in years past. “The loss of spectators is not something I personally am concerned about affecting our level of play,” said Anderson. “We bring our own energy. The bench gets really into the game, and we are our own cheering section.” 

Due to the postponement of fall sports, all athletic seasons will be greatly reduced to give every team a shot at competing this year. The swim team will only have four regular season meets, a significant contraction from 10 in years past. “Every meet, everyone’s going to have to be on their A-game. We are going to have to be cool, calm, and collected like never before because we are going to have such a condensed season,” said Nichols. Nichols believes it is going to be much harder to qualify for the State meet due to the decrease in opportunities to make the time cuts. 

Aside from competing, the social aspect of sports is why many athletes choose to participate in their respective programs. With VHSL and LCPS guidelines prohibiting external group activities, much of that social atmosphere is being taken away. “I feel like one of the most important parts of the team itself is the relationships that you develop with your teammates,” said Nichols. While it may be harder to develop those bonds during the restricted season, Nichols is confident that the team will find a way to safely replicate team events. 

There are many negative views on the progression of the winter season moving forward from tryouts, but athletes are finding silver linings to brighten the abnormal season. “I am really excited for this season because it is like a final hurrah,” said Anderson. “I have played basketball with my fellow senior, Hope Palmer, for the last 13 years and we will play against each other in college, with our schools being in the same conference. It will be super fun to finish out with the same person I started with.”