As the start of the school year approached, there was uncertainty about how the fall season would unfold. All aspects of life at Portsmouth Abbey had to be reimagined and revamped to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines. Athletics, which plays such an integral part of the students' experience at the Abbey, was no exception. Over the summer, when it became apparent that no league games would be played, Athletic Director Al Brown and Assistant Athletic Director Whitney Jones began the task of adjusting the format and schedule of the athletics program. In September 125 students arrived for preseason, eager to take part in the revamped fall program.
Once the season began student-athletes were offered a robust weekly schedule that included interscholastic practice days along with scrimmages and strength training. Every sport differed in its approach; golf, for example, was much easier to play while social distancing, whereas the football team had to get very creative in their practices. No matter the sport, coaches saw their players improve and build strength throughout the season within a well-planned structure and an added recreational aspect.
Coach Jones commented, "The students were really able to embrace the modifications that were made to their sports. They were grateful to be out in the field with their coaches, teammates, they were just glad to be playing the sport they love."
Fall athletics culminated with a Raven vs. Raven Day where Abbey teams competed to close out the season.
"One of the best memories this year was the Raven vs. Raven Day because it was a day filled with competition," said Julia '21. "The volleyball team split into two teams and we played a full-on 'five-setter' with our head coach as the referee. Also, my team put together a senior day ceremony for me and the three other seniors on the team, so it was a great way to end the season!"
Throughout the term, there were also optional weekend clinics for spring and winter sports, providing students the opportunity to practice the sports they may have missed last spring during distance learning.
Lulu, a Sixth-Form student-athlete said, "It was a great opportunity that we were able to mix up our sports. It definitely was something I looked forward to each week. It allowed for a change of pace and the ability to be around different groups of people depending on your sports. Personally, starting early allowed for the teams I was on to get very close and the chemistry to form early. Getting on the ice early has definitely been a highlight of this year for me!"
Charlie '22 agreed, "Being able to mix things up on the weekends was great, and I thought it gave a nice break to a season that felt long due to no games/matches. The change of scenery and tempo, along with people you are competing and playing with really helped."
Coach Brown noted that one of the upsides of this challenge was that it afforded the opportunity to look at new approaches and creative ways to facilitate sports. "It wasn’t a loss of a season like back in the spring. Kids got better, but also the opportunity to be able to be outside, active, and practicing sportsmanship and being good teammates — all of the things we sometimes take for granted — happened. It was similar to what we usually do even without our typical schedule," he concluded.
View the Fall Athletics Awards and slideshow here.
PORTSMOUTH ABBEY FALL 2020 ATHLETICS AWARDS
The Portsmouth Abbey Raven Award is given to a member of each varsity and JV team who best demonstrates the spirit of Abbey Athletics. The award recipient demonstrates a positive attitude, leadership, respect, commitment, and makes the experience of their teammates a positive one.
Boys Varsity Cross Country
Raven Award: Payton Foley '22
Captains Elect: Payton Foley '22, Davis Lee '22
Boys JV Cross Country
Raven Award: Ed Manning '24
Girls Varsity Cross Country
Raven Award: Lucia McLaughlin '21
Captain Elect: Marron Gibbons '22
Girls JV Cross Country
Raven Award: Marron Gibbons '22
Varsity Field Hockey
Raven Award: Lulu LePage '21
Captains Elect: Brynna Courneen '22, Lillee Dougherty '22, Jacque Martin '22
JV Field Hockey
Raven Award: Charlotte Capone '24
Raven Award: Diego Sanabria '21
Captains Elect: Jermaine Anson '22, Toby Oliveira '22, Parker Polgar '22, Frankie Sanchez '22
Raven Award: Harry Lunden '23
Boys Varsity Soccer
Raven Award: Sean O’Hara '21
Captain Elect: Mason Holling '22
Boys JV Soccer
Raven Award: Will Hurlbut '23
Girls Varsity Soccer
Raven Award: Kylie Almeida '21
Captains Elect: Hannah Best '22, Lisie O’Hara '22, Martha Wilson '22
Girls JV Soccer
Raven Award: Mya Magriby '22
Raven Award: Joey Parella '21
Captain Elect: Charlie Baughan '22
Boys JV Golf
Raven Award: Zachary Nyairo '23
Girls Varsity Volleyball
Raven Award: Julia Sisk '21
Captains Elect: Gwen Bragan '22, Marissa Scartozzi '22
Girls JV Volleyball
Raven Award: Merritt Coward '23