Back to the playing field!

Christina Zhang, Campus Reporter

Always an important aspect of student life at Kent School, the athletic program was greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Barely any competitions occurred in the 2020 – 2021 school year, with one game in the fall, three weekends of games in the winter, and four weekends of games in the spring. For many athletes, it was difficult to continue attending practice with no games; for coaches, it was challenging to create an event for students to look forward to. Although the newly revamped Kent Clubs Program provided competitive spirit, it could not replace the feeling of repping your school at a game. COVID-19 posed a challenge for students and coaches alike; however, with roughly ninety-nine percent of the community vaccinated, interscholastic competition is resuming in the 2021 – 2022 school year. 

 The Founders League, to which Kent belongs, requires that all players, coaches, and athletic trainers of institutions be fully vaccinated. Kent has also applied that standard to all schools who we compete against, meaning that even non-Founders-League schools are expected to do the same in order to compete against Kent. Ms. Duncan, the director of athletics, is “excited to welcome fans and spectators back on campus again.” 

The pandemic also emphasized the importance of team bonding. Last year, without the pressure of competitions, coaches could reflect on the team as a whole and delve into team dynamics. Ms. Duncan recognized that “It’s okay to sometimes throw your exact practice plans out the window and spend more time digging into what’s going within the group.” 

The Athletic Enrichment Series, initiated during the pandemic, brought in alumni, professional athletes and coaches, to connect with current students. Guests included Mr. Chris Patrick ‘94 the Director of Player Personnel for the Washington Capitals National Hockey League organization, Ms. Emily Cohn ‘11 the President of Enhanced Mindset Consulting LLC, and, soon, Ms. Christine Roper ‘07, a member of the Canadian Women’s Eight which won Gold in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. The Athletic Enrichment Series will continue this year, and Ms. Duncan cannot wait to welcome Ms. Christine Roper back on campus around early October.

Thus, though the pandemic posed significant challenges for the athletic program, it also provided an opportunity for growth and change, and we are now back to a “new” normal.