PSAL sports set to return for the spring season, details still unknown

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On March 8, Mayor Bill DeBlasio announced the reopening of schools for March 22 and the return of PSAL sports in April. According to the Mayor, practices and conditioning may begin in mid-April and competitions will return by May. Following this timeline, the spring season is set to run into the summer. However, it remains unclear which sports will be cleared to start. With the city having announced these preliminary plans, the questions about what sports might look like for Townsend Harris grow, as does the excitement and concern among student-athletes. 

Much of the school year has been remote and will continue to be mostly remote as the school reopens. As of now, both those who opted into in-person learning and remote learning are cleared to compete. Athletic Director Lauren Caiaccia said, “My thought process with regards to the return of sports or other in-person ‘after-school’ activities would be contingent on access to the vaccine.” Before this announcement, other areas in New York had already been participating in sports for a few months. “In my opinion, the idea of sponsoring outdoor sports as well as offering any form of modified seasons was on the proverbial back burner, but as other smaller districts throughout New York… demonstrated their ability to offer sports, albeit, in a limited capacity, it became apparent that ‘the city’ would need to, at the very least, make their fair attempt,” said Ms. Caiaccia. 

Upon hearing this news, many THHS athletes were excited and shocked, yet they shared many worries. Aside from universal concerns related to COVID-19 and coming in contact with individuals from other schools, some worry about the social aspect of joining a team, especially freshmen. Freshman Ella Kim, who would be interested in either softball or flag football, said, “I am not the most sociable person, and playing on a team requires social skills.” Freshman John Demchak, who plans to join the track team, shared similar sentiments and said, “I think it would be pretty awkward in the beginning because [the upperclassmen] already have their friend group and I don’t know them.” 

Other athletes shared concerns about being prepared for the season, as the conditions outside have limited practice time for many. As the virus and cold weather endured over the past few months, it grew difficult to practice outdoors. Sophomore Erica Jin of the girls’ track team said, “I remember running around my block, five, ten, and sometimes twenty times, over and over again, since I didn’t want to come in contact with people on the main streets.” 

At the same time, athletes hope that the return of sports will provide the sense of normalcy that they once knew. Although this hope is shared across all grades, many seniors look forward to this opportunity as one of the only normal parts of their senior year. Senior Kevin Baijoo, who is on the boys’ volleyball team, said, “Missing out on all other major events of senior year makes me crave some normalcy now more than ever.” This opportunity also provides a glimmer of hope that other parts of the school year may return. “It also gives me hope that other events may occur such as graduation,” said senior Annie Yi, a member of the girls’ handball team. This season would also be the seniors’ last chance to play sports for THHS and would be a chance to combat the lack of closure in their last year of high school. 

While these feelings run throughout the student body, much of the logistical aspects of the return of sports remain a mystery. Information about how to proceed with practices and games will first come from politicians before it reaches PSAL and the THHS administration, and the Mayor has yet to elaborate on his announcement about sports. “Personally, I have reached out to all the coaches in our program at various times to ‘touch base’ and to share the information being forwarded from the PSAL. Most recently, the PSAL sent information to ensure that coaches possess current required certifications,” said Ms. Caiaccia. 

As we await further information, inquiries are only growing. There is no confirmation of which sports will be offered and which sports THHS can offer, nor is there information about attendance, coaches’ involvement, and forms. Regardless of the uncertainty, this glimmer of hope has renewed specific goals of enjoying the little moments in the athletes. “My main goal this season, if it happens, would be to just have fun and improve my skills. I joined the team because I love volleyball, and I’d just want to enjoy that if we’re given the opportunity to,” said Kevin.