A Peek into Yorktown’s Winter Sports Season

Claire Stromseth, Staff Reporter

Our school’s students have a reputation for challenging themselves and succeeding academically, but this resolute work ethic does not end with the school day. Despite the bell that releases students at 3:01 p.m., many remain in the building for extracurricular activities. With tryouts beginning on November 8 and November 15, both students and faculty are eager for the upcoming winter sports season to begin.

Offering basketball, cheerleading, gymnastics, indoor track, rifle, wrestling, swimming and diving, the athletics department does not limit itself. Our school also extends opportunities for year-round athletics such as crew and the dance team. Director of Student Activities, Michael Kruulfeeld, is confident in our student athletes given the winter teams’ past achievements. 

“Our wrestling team is defending their championship from the last time there was a real wrestling championship; boys and girls basketball is competitive; girls swimming was state champions last year and indoor track was second in the state. It’s fun to watch the students succeed on the court, field, mat or whichever sport they’re playing,” Kruulfeeld said

Students and faculty alike share the same anticipation for the winter season. Jillian Burpee, co-captain of the gymnastics team, is eager to return to the “good environment” that our schools’ sports teams foster. She believes being a student athlete can help prepare teenagers for life beyond high school.  

“You learn to get out of your comfort zone and try new skills which can also be applied to regular life,” Burpee said.

Behind the scenes of excitement and confidence lies the hard work put into the preparations that make the winter season possible. Already busy with annual considerations for equipment, uniforms and schedules, COVID-19 has added an additional layer of work. Given everyone’s desire to return to normalcy amid the pandemic, the athletics department is doing everything they can to ensure that athletes have a safe indoor season. 

Arlington Public Schools (APS) has implemented a policy that requires winter athletes to either be vaccinated or participate in daily COVID-19 testing. APS also adds that those who are vaccinated and wish to not wear a mask while practicing or playing must participate in daily testing. 

“We anticipate that the vast majority of our winter athletes, if not all of them, will be testing daily. This will help us to catch any positive cases and hopefully limit the exposure to other athletes. We can have the team continue practicing and playing while individuals who have COVID quarantine, and that way we don’t have to shut down large groups of kids,” Kruulfeeld said.

Because of the increased transmission rate indoors as opposed to outdoor fall and spring sports, the athletics department is going to crack down more when it comes to keeping track of testing.

“When we come inside, we’re gonna have to be very diligent, as the coaches and administrators, to make sure that we have recordings of everyone testing everyday in order to mitigate that risk,” Kruulfeeld said.

Although the faculty has been very diligent in taking COVID-19 precautions, they have yet to reach a consensus on how the school will be dealing with indoor crowds for sports with high attendance rates such as basketball.

“We anticipate being able to accommodate many more people this year, but I don’t know if that means we go back to pre-COVID, or if there is some middle ground that we land on between last year and prior to COVID. Those decisions when made are not necessarily extremely popular because they affect parents and community members and students’ ability to return to normalcy, which is something we all want at this time, but in reality we’ve all had to make adjustments because of COVID.” Kruulfeeld said.

Regardless of the uncertainty, the return of the (mostly) normal winter sports season is something that many are looking forward to. This enthusiasm will only lead to more athletic successes, as seen in years past.