The season for the LHS Boys’ Varsity Basketball Team got off to an unfortunate start, but it had nothing to do with the team’s performance. “Our first four games got cancelled,” explains senior captain Colin Hoffman. “Our first two were COVID-related because we could not practice and the other two were because of the weather.” However, the team soon hit their stride as the season progressed. Like many athletic teams at LHS, the basketball team had to modify their practices and games to follow protocols for limiting the spread of COVID-19. “We have to spend a lot less time in the gym,” says Coach Patrick Murphy. “We have to socially distance, and we have to make sure that masks are on at all times.” While two teams could share the court during practices in past years, only one team is allowed to practice at a time this year.
Having less spectators at the games is also affecting the team’s motivation, according to senior captain James McLaughlin. Some teams in the PVIAC conference have not allowed any fans at the games; Longmeadow, however, does allow two fans per player to attend the games. “It is definitely harder to compete in an empty gym,” says McLaughlin. Hoffman echoes similar sentiments: “I think that our team this year would have fed off a lot of the crowd’s energy, so it hurts not having fans, but we were lucky enough to be able to have fans at our home games.”
However, one aspect of the game that has not changed much is the physicality. Murphy explains that, “Basketball is a game where you cannot really take out the 1-on-1 contact, like some of the other sports have tried to do.” Despite the physical nature of the game, both McLaughlin and Hoffman felt safe playing basketball this season, which they both credit to the work of Mr. Capotosto and the Athletic Department. McLaughlin notes that, “I think the state, our conference (PVIAC), the coaches, and Mr. Capotosto have all done a really good job of following the guidelines: the social distancing, the masks, and the contact tracing.”
However because of COVID-19, between this season and past seasons, the number of practices that the team is able to hold has lessened drastically. The team played nine games over the last two and a half weeks, and a result, practices were hard to come by. “Unfortunately we will not have a lot of time for practices to clean up a lot of the issues that can arise in a game,” says Coach Murphy.
Coach Murphy explains that this season is less about wins and losses and more about letting the athletes play. He explains that the major focus of the season was “making sure that our student athletes are getting off the screens and participating in interscholastic athletics.” He continues, “It is not the ideal situation we are looking for but it is an opportunity for us to play…I know there are some people who do not love every portion of our new season, but they have to look at it and be fortunate that we are allowed to play.”