St. Luke’s athletics made an energetic return this week as winter sports programming got underway, following the statewide 52-day pause to team sports.
All club and team sports, including high school sports, were put on hold when the state of Connecticut implemented the pause on Nov. 23, citing the rise in COVID-19 cases.
The ban was lifted on Tuesday, Jan. 19, allowing our Upper School winter teams to start practices on Wednesday, Jan. 20.
The St. Luke’s Athletic Department implemented a number of return-to-play protocols to help mitigate risk, with a robust practice schedule that was designed to build team camaraderie, develop skills and bolster conditioning.
All teams have been split into pods for the first three days as coaches make decisions on team placements.
Boys and girls squash were back on the four state-of-the-art courts on the lower level of the athletic center, and Boys Head Coach Brian Mathias was thrilled with the turnout: “We have 23 guys playing, which is awesome. This week has mostly been technical work, but the energy is building. The boys are excited to play again.”
Storm hockey was back on home ice at Sono Ice House, and puck squad co-captain Hayden Critchell ‘21 commented how fantastic it is to skate with his teammates again: “It's a great opportunity for everyone to get back on the ice and feel like a team again. I think winter sports starting back up has given our schools’ athletes hope for the rest of the season and pride that they can finish out their chosen sport with their teammates and coaches. As a senior, it's just nice to end the year on a positive note and be able to set an example for the underclassmen, who will be the future of the team.”
Critchell’s co-captain Anders Ernberg ‘21 added: “It feels great to be back on the ice, especially given the circumstances. Many of the returning players are looking bigger and stronger. The team has a good mix of younger and older guys, and I am excited to see how relationships develop during this unusual season.”
The St. Luke’s ski team started its dry-land training with some fitness work on Watson Field. Captain Brian Douglas is thankful to be able to train with his teammates: “The ski team is excited to be back in action and together again. There are a lot of things we can't do this year, but we're happy to be able to build camaraderie. Our sincerest thanks go out to all those who have worked so hard to get us in a position to practice on campus: the athletic department, the facilities team, the school's administration, and, of course, our amazing coaching staff.”
Boys and girls basketball were back inside at the Carey Gymnasium and the Wellness & Fitness Center for team workouts. Girls Head Coach Matt Ward was impressed with his team’s output: “They are definitely excited to be back and playing together again. It’s different, but the girls are engaged, energetic, competitive, and having fun.”