Seniors grateful MCPS kept winter season open

Rachael Wolfson

More stories from Rachael Wolfson


Photo Courtesy of Dorothea Wolfson

WJ Swim and Dive show team spirit at a meet against Wootton. The swim team along with other winter sports at WJ were very lucky to have a whole season this year.

As the winter sports season is coming to an end, it’s important to realize how fortunate we were that everything remained mostly open this whole season. Just last year, the whole winter sports season was canceled, and all we were left with were weekly Zoom meetings with our team.

Lately, there’s been a lot of criticism about MCPS deciding not to go virtual after reaching over five percent of infected Covid cases. However, it’s actually quite remarkable that MCPS was able to find ways for winter sports to continue this season, despite the problem that most winter sports are indoor.

Sports are very important to high school students to be able to participate in. Sports at this school are more than about just fitness and activity. It is a way in which students form friendships, memories, and amazing experiences. And to be stripped from this last year in the winter was devastating.

“Indoor track was much different last year…with no real practices or races…it was hard to stay motivated and to keep training when you have no real season to look forward to,” senior Andrew Schell said. He’s been on the track team for four years.

This further enhances why it was so crucial that MCPS and WJ were able to keep winter sports open and running smoothly this year. It’s hard for athletes to miss a whole season and still train without their teammates and regular practices.

MCPS has been creative with finding ways to keep winter sports open and WJ sport’s team’s coaches have as well.

“I’m most appreciative of the coaches trying hard to find us [track] meets to run in, out of town, especially knowing that WJ is one of the only schools participating in them in all of MCPS. It shows how much they really care about the team,” Schell said.

Coaches have been very flexible and innovative this season to keep their sports running smoothly while limiting Covid spread. The indoor track coaches have been hosting polar bear meets, which are outdoor meets to keep athletes safer. The swim team, along with other teams at WJ have been limiting spectators at indoor events. Coaches and athletes have also been very careful about mask wearing and reporting Covid cases, as well.

If MCPS had canceled schools, this could have also led to the risk of winter sports teams shutting down. Some might argue that to stay healthy we need to shut down and isolate to protect ourselves from Covid. But what some may not realize is that staying open also keeps us healthy, mentally. And being able to participate in the winter sports season and to be able to see friends is one of the biggest things that keeps students healthy.

This winter season has been the highlight of the year for many athletes so far. They’ve been able to accomplish goals, train in the sport they love, and be able to spend time with peers. So many athletes this year were able to achieve things that they wouldn’t have been able to experience if the season had gotten canceled.

For instance, senior Hana Bingley (who has been on the swim team for four years) was able to be on the swim team with her sister this year. “I really appreciate the fact me and my sister could swim together my senior year. It made it so much more fun,” Bingley said.

Schell was able to break the 3200 meter record this season in indoor track. “This season has been very special. Being able to break the 3200 school record my senior year after it was a huge goal of mine is super meaningful to me,” Schell said.

In addition to Schell breaking a record, senior Fernando Ibarra broke the 55 meter dash record this season.

This past winter season showed a lot of communal effort on behalf of MCPS, WJ, the coaches and the athletes to keep all winter sports open, while maintaining safety. While many are distressed that MCPS didn’t cancel school for two weeks, it’s worth the time to consider that MCPS and WJ did a great job to keep winter sports open this year while still being careful and aware of Covid. Afterall, this creativity brought so much joy to athletes this winter season.

“I was so happy and grateful that I could swim my senior year with all my friends that I’ve made through the team one last year,” Bingley said.