Building bonds: Team traditions bring players together during pandemic-affected season

Building+bonds%3A+Team+traditions+bring+players+together+during+pandemic-affected+season

By Akshita Joshi, Assistant Sports Editor

With the opening of fall sports, conditioning drills, regular meets and daily practices have slowly trickled back into athletes’ schedules. However, often overlooked is the glue that holds athletes together: team traditions. Despite COVID-19, many teams have tried to incorporate traditions while following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.

’Stoga boys squash held their regular team dinners outside to minimize physical contact. Players enjoy dinner after a long practice and have the opportunity to branch out to the new and old players on the team to wind down. While it may seem small, these team dinners are beneficial for the boys. Sophomore Alex Gan describes the importance of these small team bonding events.

“Team building creates a sense of community. It forms bonds and spirit that translates to how we play. We push each other to improve during downtime,” Gan said.

’Stoga tennis also has been participating in many team bonding traditions this season. The team hosts an annual team dinner party where they play games and participate in group discussions. To ensure safety the team requires masks when not on the courts and sit apart while eating. While the tennis season was rushed and the team wasn’t able to follow through with most of their regular traditions, they were able to execute senior day, a tradition passed on throughout ’Stoga athletics history. Underclassmen made posters and cheered on the seniors for their last season on the team, while the seniors stood proudly at lineup, each receiving a rose as a token of appreciation.

Senior Cassie Latoff,has been playing on the team throughout her high school career, with this being her fourth year on the varsity team. Despite her last season at ’Stoga being altered, Latoff explains the significance of the little team bonding the team was able to implement into their season.

“Everyone has positive energy at our team hangouts. We were together constantly for the past couple months which brings everyone pretty close. It gives each player confidence and improves their motivation while on the court,” Latoff said.

The girls’ soccer team aimed to continue as many traditions while following COVID-19 protocol. The varsity team always buys matching team shoes together as a form of school spirit, which they continued this year. They had pasta parties outside with masks where they played games and held a pumpkin carving competition.’Stoga soccer also had their annual senior night where all the seniors were honored for their last season on the team with balloons, decorations, and posters.

Junior Cameron Lee plays for the soccer team and participated in her third season for the team. She appreciates the hard work and effort that went into senior night to make it memorable this year.

“For this season, we tried to make senior night as special and important as it’s been in the past. The senior parents did an amazing job with balloons and their child’s poster. The rest of the team and I made sure we got extra decorations and chalked up teamer to make it one of the best nights we have had on the team, Lee said.

 The football team kept their Thursday night pizza trips at Berwyn Pizza by limiting the number of players each week. Berwyn Pizza trips have become a weekly tradition for the team, where players have the opportunity to enjoy dinner together and talk about their lives outside of football. Senior Connor Whitlow, captain of the football team, was excited to be able to continue this weekly trip with the players.

“The team building helped build camaraderie and got us ready to step up to fill in the spots left by last year’s senior class,” Whitlow said. “The seniors and experienced juniors have really stepped up to help our younger players learn our system fast to make up for the short season.”

Despite the unpredictable season, with the bonds created by these team traditions, athletes are able to stick together and make the best out of the shortened fall sports season.