Winter Sports are Back!


courtesy of Rocco George

Senior Rocco George and the HHS basketball team began its season this week.

Christopher Digricoli, Staff Writer

After Governor Phil Murphy postponed winter sports in November, High School athletes were afraid their seasons would be in danger of cancellation. The NJAISSA, however, formulated a “Return to Play” plan to get sports and teams back in session while staying safe and following state restrictions; this resulted in three seasons of sports this winter.

For season two, slated to return first was Ice Hockey, which resumed practice in mid-December and started competition on Jan. 4 with a game against Bridgewater. The win did not come without new guidelines having to follow such as players required to mask up until substituted into a game.

“It was weird for most guys at first with the mask protocols and temperature checks every day, but we slowly got used to it,” senior Brock Forest said.

Next up was basketball, starting tryouts on Jan. 11. When asked how tryouts went, freshman coach Shea Fuhrman said, “There were fewer students who tried out. Last year I had over 50 freshman tryouts for the freshman team, and this year that number was 20 so there was a significant impact on the level of participation because of the pandemic.”

The first game of the season against Franklin was played on Jan. 27 and was definitely one of the strangest.

“Some things were odd, like referees not touching the ball and spaced out bench seating but at the end of the day it’s an opportunity to play basketball and keep everyone safe,” senior Rocco George said.

More guidelines include a 15-minute passing period between boys and girls practices to minimize close contact and everyone, coaches and athletes, need to wear masks unless enduring strenuous activity.

As February approaches, more athletes look to start their seasons such as the swim teams and indoor track and field athletes. Winter track coach Richard Refi has been assigning his runners workouts and providing log sheets to keep track of how much the athletes run. Meets will now be known as “Polar Bear” meets, taking place outside in the cold weather, opposed to using the indoor facilities not being able to accommodate the number of participants needed. As seen with basketball, winter track signups were down about 30% this year, but along with all the other coaches, Refi is hopeful and excited for the season to finally kick-off.

Although the seasons started late and include odd and somewhat tedious tendencies, the NJAISSA did their best to provide a season to the winter athletes and give them the best opportunity at normalcy. The athletes are also thankful for the opportunity to actually play this season rather than throw another activity down the drain.