The Pack Rolls On

With new restrictions on practice and the ongoing uncertainty concerning a new season, the Boston Latin School boys’ football has to adjust to maintain their physical and mental well-being as a team. As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association and Dual County League (DCL) officials have been working continuously to create guidelines for the fall and winter seasons.

Many teams at BLS have been feeling the effects of these new precautions, and the boys’ football team is not an exception. Captain Jake Leonardo (I) explains the modifications to the team’s usual practice schedule to which he says, “We haven’t had any real practices but we had optional team conditioning sessions that the coaches organized and those were every Wednesday from the beginning of the school year until late October.”

Leonardo also states the specific steps they took at practice in order to maintain the utmost safety of the team. This includes breaking up into groups to maintain social distancing, limiting playing with footballs and having to wear long sleeves, masks and gloves at all times. Unfortunately, as Leonardo explains, these team meetings were cut short a few weeks ago after the Boston Public Schools (BPS) banned all gatherings of school sports teams.

Fellow captain Roy Thompson (I) reacts to the news of BPS’s decision to stop all team gatherings, saying, “I was disappointed, but expected it, as a team, we followed all the guidelines and checked every box but I knew that people in the city weren’t and that our cases were just going to go up which would be the inevitable.”

Practice is a valuable time for teams to bond, and without it, it can be hard to create a sense of community, which is vital on the field. After the Wednesday in-person practices were discontinued, the football team has resorted to optional at-home workouts and Zoom meetings every Friday.

Thompson expresses doubts concerning this schedule, saying that “limited practices have given players a way out in not working out and exercising, so I predict the non-motivated players will be in rough shape when we start up again.” What was once a team sport has now become much more reliant on individual work ethic and determination.

Going forward, there are still many unresolved issues regarding what a season could look like this year. The DCL recently issued a statement that all winter sports would not be starting before December 14, which is almost three weeks later than usual.

Uly Brenzel (I) and Leonardo share Thompson’s doubts concerning the motivation surrounding players. They remain optimistic, that despite their separation, they can still remain connected with each other as a team.

Brenzel emphasizes that the players are relying on each other, saying that “the committed kids have been meeting up during the week to run routes and play 7v7 so we’ve been staying connected as a team quite well.”

With Thanksgiving approaching, the BLS community is disappointed they will not get to spend Spirit Day cheering on the football team at the pep rallies as they prepare for the most anticipated game of the season against English High School.

Although the athletes are saddened by this, Leonardo thinks that these setbacks could inspire them to return next year better than ever. With anticipation, he says, “We all really want the season to happen, and we’re all invested that we can win a lot more games than we have been the past few years, so I wouldn’t say it’s affecting our morale or hope.”