As the winter term comes to a close, several Deerfield teams have had the opportunity to compete against rival schools in interscholastic competitions. While the Alpine Ski team has been competing against other schools since early February, many of the other interscholastic sports teams have not begun competing against rival schools until the final three weeks of the term.
In the last weeks of the term, both the Girl’s and Boy’s Varsity Hockey teams have been able to compete against neighboring Northfield Mount Hermon, and will compete against Berkshire School and Cushing Academy at the end of the term. Against NMH, the Girl’s team came home with a win (3-1) while the Boy’s team tied 2-2 in overtime. Ellia Chiang ’21, captain of the Girl’s Varsity team, commented that she was “very grateful for the opportunity to play games this year” and that at the game “the energy was unreal”. She reflected that she and her teammates were overjoyed to have the opportunity to demonstrate the hard work they had been putting into practice all season in a game.
Both the Girl’s and Boy’s Varsity Swim teams have had slightly different interscholastic competitions than other sports. While basketball, hockey, and Squash have had the opportunity to compete in person, the swim teams opted for ‘virtual competitions’, similar to those held by the Varsity Cross Country team in the Fall. The Girl’s Swim Team competed against Suffield, while the Boy’s team swam against Choate. Both teams timed races in their home pools, and then shared the results to compare times and determine a winner. Both teams swam fast, but Suffield and Choate proved victorious.
Boy’s and Girl’s basketball were also able to compete against Wilbraham in the final weeks of the term, and will play Cushing and Berkshire school, like the hockey and squash teams. The Girl’s team narrowly lost to Wilbraham by two points, while the Boy’s team played hard but came away with a loss. Benju Basba ’22, a member of the Boy’s Varsity Basketball team commented that “Despite the loss, I think everyone on the team was just happy to get out on the floor”. Basba added that the atmosphere for the game felt quite a bit different without spectators. He noted that “without having people in the stands, it felt like we were playing in a dead gym. Our game definitely made me realize how much I take for granted the amazing fans/sports culture at Deerfield”.
While spectators have not been permitted at any of the games this winter, Athletic Director Bob Howe has been working with the Athletics Task Force to find strategies that may allow spectators to watch interscholastic competitions in the Spring. The competitions this Winter represent a culmination of a great deal of logistical work and planning by Mr. Howe, Mr. Miller, Ms. Creagh, and Dr. Benson, who make up the ‘Athletics Task Force’. The Task Force has been working closely with EH & E (Environmental Health and Engineering) to ensure that these games remain safe for all athletes, coaches, and schools involved. In addition to mask wearing during competition, all athletes are required to have negative rapid antigen tests taken the day of competition, and Deerfield is only participating in competitions with rival schools that require regular PCR tests for students and have no current active cases.
Looking towards the Spring, Mr. Howe commented that the Athletics Task Force has planned out “a full six week schedule of games” and that he is hoping that sports competitions will approach even more of a sense of normalcy than in the Winter. Mr. Howe also emphasized that many Spring sports like tennis and golf allow for distancing of players, and this would allow a faster transition to interscholastic play. Additionally, as various vaccines become increasingly available in Massachusetts, coaches, spectators, and perhaps athletes may be able to secure immunization in preparation for the Spring season.