by Ryan Duvall ’21
As we kick off the 2020-2021 school year it all feels a lot different. Students and teachers must complete classes virtually and MCPS has postponed the fall and winter sports seasons, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, MCPS has given athletes an alternative for the fall, offering virtual athletics, for all students to sign up, with no team selections or cuts.
The official name for the MCPS Athletics’ plan for the fall and winter sports season is called R.A.I.S.E. (Respect and Sportsmanship, Academic Excellence, Integrity and Character, Spirited and Safe Competition, Equity and Access). R.A.I.S.E. has been developed by a council of athletic directors, coordinators, and district representatives in order to provide student athletes with fall, winter, and spring sports season (virtual or in-person) for the 2020-2021school year.
Registration is open now, with the fall season starting September 14 and running through October 16. Sports that will be included in Montgomery County’s virtual athletics include cheerleading, cross-country, field hockey, coed golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls volleyball, and team handball. School coaches will run these virtual meetings for their respective sport. And the winter season will follow soon after, starting October 26.
Although this may seem disappointing for those athletes, especially seniors, hoping to play this year, there is a chance that in-person high school sports could be played in second semester. On August 27, Governor Larry Hogan pushed for reopening Maryland school systems and in a press conference said that the state was ready for in-person learning to resume, meaning a potential return to school before second semester could pave the way for high school sports to come back in early 2021.
Yet, bringing back postponed fall and winter sports potentially could create a host of obstacles, such as whether two-sport athletes have to choose one sport or another, and how to schedule practices and games for so many sports at the same time. Two senior athletes are optimistic about playing their seasons once it is safe to do so, but also are ready to adapt to virtual meetings and practices to stay together as a team. Stephen Billig, a guard on the boys varsity basketball team, was set up to take on a leadership role for his senior year and even though the season is not certain, he and his team are still preparing for this season and beyond. “We have virtual meetings planned to prepare for college sports and just to be together as a team,” said Billig.
Charlie Matusek, a star on the boys varsity lacrosse team, is embracing the opportunities to play games of any kind.“We just played in a summer league with some out of county schools, and soon we will be participating in a fall league that will also include out of county schools. And I expect us to start having some virtual meetings at some point.”