Kisna Pande, Grade 10, Staff Writer
With the return of in-person school, sports teams are back in session. After the year-long break, student-athletes have returned with newfound excitement and energy. However, due to pandemic restrictions, things have not been the same as before.
According to the New York City Department of Education website, “PSAL teams will still be required to follow all PSAL health and safety guidelines during participation,” including but not limited to vaccination requirements for all high-risk sports, facial coverings worn at all times, health screenings, and social distancing. These policies have been implemented city-wide and affect all NYC Public Schools.
However, the High School of American Studies has faced additional challenges, which makes organizing practices and games more difficult. In the past, HSAS has used Lehman College’s facilities to host games and practices. This year, however, Lehman has taken extra precautions and shut down many of the facilities HSAS previously used, including the Old Gym, where the HSAS basketball team would practice and hold home games. As a result, the HSAS basketball teams regularly do not have adequate facilities to practice.
Mr. Hondorf, the coach of the girls’ basketball and softball teams, is excited about the return of school sports. “I'm very excited to be back in person after being virtual for so long,” he said. “Mostly, I'm happy that our students can have the opportunity to interact in person and have some fun participating in athletics!”
From September 9 through September 29, 57 percent of the roughly 1,200 games scheduled on the PSAL’s calendar weren’t played, according to Daily News. About 500 of those games, or 42 percent, have been postponed, while 180, or 15 percent, have been forfeited or canceled. Some amount of schedule reshuffling is typical at the start of every season as schools iron out logistical wrinkles, but it has never been done at this level.
Reflecting on the changes and challenges his teams are facing this year, Mr. Hondorf said, “Things are a lot different now. The progress and momentum that we've gained in our athletic programs came to an abrupt halt, and we have to build some of that momentum back up again. We have all new faces on many of our sports teams, many who will have learned the sport very quickly.”