Coaches of the low- and moderate-risk sports are sitting out this month with a feeling of unease about the start of their season, which was pushed back from Nov. 30 to Jan. 4. The sports affected were bowling, skiing, indoor track and field, and fencing.
For Scott Mosenthal, the coach of the Irvington indoor track and field team, “My approach for this season is to hope for the best, expect the worst.”
“It is literally a day-to-day situation where things can go south in an instant — or to be more precise — in a test,” he said. “Consequently, I will be telling our athletes to appreciate and make the most of each day we get to practice or compete, realizing that so many others are in such worse conditions.”
Mosenthal continued, “As I am sure with every other coach, athlete, and parent, I was disappointed, but not surprised, to hear that the start had been moved to Jan. 4. Nonetheless, we are going to try to hold open workouts before that date with the goal of helping athletes gain at least some fitness while ensuring their safety.”
He added, “My sense is that the athletes can't wait to begin training, and the delay, while understandable, is extremely frustrating. In Irvington's case, we are returning perhaps the best group of senior winter track male athletes Irvington has ever had; they won the sectional championship last year for the program's first indoor title in 20 years and 90 percent of those who scored are returning. The returning females are also a talented, hard-working group. Both teams will be anchored by cross-country runners who just concluded highly successful seasons.”
Molly Guilfoyle, Hastings’ indoor track and field coach, believes the importance of practicing and competing should not be overlooked.
“I was dismayed but not surprised when the start date for indoor track was pushed to Jan. 4,” Guilfoyle said. “The team and I were really hoping we would be able to continue with practice at least, especially considering we practice almost entirely outdoors. After losing the spring season and training by themselves all summer, the kids really appreciated just being able to run and practice together this fall.”
She continued, “They were understandably disappointed to hear that indoor sports were being postponed. Team practices gave them a physical and mental outlet as well as a sense of normalcy, even with the Covid precautions and changes that were made.”
Guilfoyle added, “There is definitely a sense of unease about actually starting on Jan. 4. If the Section didn't feel comfortable starting now, I can't imagine the situation improving by Jan. 4 given the expected rise in cases. The kids I've spoken with realize that meets pose a huge challenge and risk and accept that meets probably can't and won't happen. We are hoping to be able to at least be able to practice together, even if that requires drastically changing their structure — small groups, alternate days, etc.”
Dobbs Ferry indoor track and field coach Vinny Garafalo is optimistic about the season.
“For me the safety of the student athletes is number one,” Garafalo said. “Whatever that means as far as a start date I am accepting of. I feel optimistic — that is my approach to all topics revolving around high school sports this school year. In the end, Section I will be doing what is best to provide opportunities for the student athletes to be successful and safe.”
He continued, “I think that the students are all affected differently. With the lack of out-of-season training there can be some negative effects and some increased early training related soreness and hopefully not injuries. Those participants who were able to compete in the fall season will be in a better position than those who were not in an organized sport.”
While the “indoor” track and field season can translate “outside” for meets and competitions, bowling cannot.
“When I heard of the delay to the start of the bowling season, I was not surprised given the resurgence of Covid-19,” Irvington bowling coach Rey Serrano said. “I was disappointed because of how this may affect our season.”
He added, “My concern is that there may be some overlap of sports and this will place students in a situation that will make them choose between one sport and another. We are confident that our bowling season will start on Jan. 4 and we are hoping that at the end it all works out for all of us.”
Though he does not coach a winter sport, Irvington girls’ soccer head coach Pat DiBenedetto may have summed it all up best.
“I hope the athletes get to compete,” he said. “Otherwise, it is going to be a looong winter!”