Spring sports preview

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Here are the remaining spring sports not previewed in the latest issue of The Patriot Post, covered by Sammy Rosenthal (boys and girls lacrosse) and Joseph Richards (track and field, weightlifting, softball and boys volleyball).

Starting senior goalie Jake Marek attempts to make a save during a home game last season. (Photo submitted by Jack Shechtman)

Boys Lacrosse

Last season saw the varsity boys lacrosse team poised to make a title run until the pandemic put any dreams of winning a state banner to bed. This year, while that same mindset remains, key losses to the Patriots in the offseason may make the road back to the top all the more difficult.

“We had a tremendous season last year [and] ranked number 2 in the state,” senior Jack Shechtman said, “however, most of our offense consisted of seniors in the starting line up. Losing all of those key players has definitely created a challenge, but we are changing up our game plan in light of losing so many starters.”

With the Coronavirus still looming, though, making up for graduated starters proves to be not the only challenge the Patriots face for the season.

“With a young team, preseason activities become even more important,” senior Ethan Heim said. “Unfortunately, COVID-19 has kept our team from developing a fine-tuned chemistry when compared to last season. However, individual efforts and great work ethics could help limit the effects of a slow-progressing chemistry.”

In an effort to help counter the obstacles in their season’s path, many of the seniors have focused on using their experience to help bring along the younger athletes on the team in order to improve the team as a whole.

“It’s been nice to pass the torch down to the younger kids on the team who won’t necessarily have a big impact this year, but will be the future of the program,” Shechtman said. “Teaching them everything I know about the game will only make our team better, so, personally, I look to coach up the younger athletes on our team whenever I get the chance.”

Despite the difficulties weighing the team down, though, a state banner remains on the team’s mind, and the Patriots understand that accomplishing such a feat will require a complete team effort.

“The key to winning a state title this year will be the performance of our young players,” Heim said. “We lost quite a few talented seniors last year and we will be relying on some newer players to step into their roles and pick up where they left off.”

Girls Lacrosse

Yet another casualty of the shortened spring season a year ago, the varsity girls lacrosse team aims to carry over their success from the early portion of the 2020 campaign into the upcoming season.

“Last season we started off strong with a team full of skilled players,” senior Jordyn McCullough said on the team’s 7-2 start to last year. “We plan to try and pick up where we left off, using the same plays and skills we have learned from last season and also adding new components.”

As for the impacts of the pandemic this year, COVID-19 has left the team short-handed and unable to garner recruitments to the squad; much of the core, however, remains intact.

“Covid has definitely had an impact on our team,” McCullough said. “We don’t have as many players as we usually would and it has been a struggle trying to recruit new players. Due to this, we have no new players so we already have a form of chemistry that was built over the past seasons. We are definitely going to have to build our stamina up due to not having many substitute players.”

With the sample size of the 2019 spring season the team experienced last year, a sense of continuity bodes to aid the Patriots on their path to sustaining that level of success for an entire campaign.

“This season having committed players with good attitudes is very important,” McCullough said. “Since we are already short, with girls having a strong base to build on is the key to our success this year.”

Boys and Girls Track and Field

Compared to previous years, the boys and girls track and field season is set to to kick off this spring very differently. Due to COVID-19 limiting spectators and college scouts, the athletes have had to mentally adapt to this new normal. 

Junior Emory Clemmons, explained how COVID-19 has affected track meets. “It feels like a normal practice. Nobody is around and the cheers aren’t as loud. It doesn’t really affect my ability, but it really does make the races more boring,” Emory said.

The virus has not only negatively affected the overall atmosphere of meets but also seniors’ college commitment processes. Since the pandemic started, there has been what is known as a “dead period” for the seniors both during the 2020 season (which was cancelled mid-season) and the current 2021 season. A dead period refers to when colleges are not allowed to watch or be in contact with high school athletes, lowering the chances of these athletes to commit to a university for their sport. This rule has encompassed many members of the track and field team.

Focusing on the actual season ahead, the coaches and players are optimistic about the results they can garner. 

“We may not have the quantity but we have the quality, which is going to make us hard to beat in all the events. As long as we put in the work and run with heart and effort, we will be fine,” varsity track and field coach Gregory Barnes said.

The team’s main goal is securing spots in the state championships for all the relay events they are involved, including the 4x100m and the 4x400m, while also hoping for individual medals from key athletes like Clemons, senior Nicholas Whitton, freshman Ashley Fitzgerald, freshman Sienna Elle and senior Michael Watkins in their respective races.

Weightlifting

Like many other sports and extracurriculars on campus, the weightlifting team has had to adjust to new COVID-19 regulations in order to have their season. Team members have had to get used to wearing masks in the gym and filling out daily symptom checkers to keep COVID-19 under control. 

Other than that, the team seems content with the fact that they are even having season during such times.

“Yeah, there are a few setbacks, mainly the fact that the number of lifting meets and the amount of teams able to attend those meets are going to cut down significantly,” junior Umar Hussain said. “However, I’m still grateful that we are able to have safe practices that are pretty much the same as previous years, because I know some team sports at other schools, like Nova University School, don’t even have a season at all.”

All the meets that the team is eligible to participate in (with low attendance) mainly include those in local Broward County schools, while the remaining canceled ones are mostly out of the county in cities like Fort Myers and Naples. Members of the team who are expected to have significant impact on the upcoming season include juniors Christian Custodio, Umar Hussain,  Kevin Sanderson and Miguel Cedeno, all of whom are hoping to medal at some point this season in the bench press and clean and jerk events in their respective weight brackets. With the team’s optimism and the specialized workouts created by Coach Travis Spiva, the weightlifting squad is expected to yield better results than they did in the previous season.

Softball

The softball team has had to get accustomed to new COVID-19 rules for their new spring season. Players have had to wear masks any time they aren’t on the pitch and can no longer have spectators at practices, including parents. There are now fewer games in this 2020-21 season than usual, with the number of fans attending being severely restricted in all cases.

“The whole situation is really volatile,” junior outfielder and catcher Brooke Febles said. “You never know when your season can be put in pause, whether it’s because cases rise or if someone on the team has covid. You never know.” 

Despite having a shortened season, the intensity of the games are still high level. This proved to be apparent in their first game of the season against Archbishop Mccarthy High School, where the Patriots lost 5-3. Even though the Patriots were able to get on the scoreboard with points from senior Halle Roach, junior Marissa Thompson and junior Sydney Miller, Coach Wayne Lenoff stated that the team lacked in getting consistent runs, leaving many runners on different bases. Additionally, the coach pointed out the team’s mentality during the game, which to his judgement didn’t show enough determination to win.

To recover from this loss, Coach Lenoff has had the squad running constant hitting drills to avoid the same downfall they had in their first game.

“I definitely think all the hitting drills are necessary for us to rebuild our confidence. We have tougher games ahead like the ones against Park Vista and Doral, who beat us last year, that we need to win,” junior Marissa Thompson said.

With specialized training and a new mentality added to their arsenal, the softball team is set to play the rest of the season.

Boys Volleyball

The boys volleyball team’s season, just like all other sports, have been impacted by Covid in a negative way. Due to risk of contamination, many of the players who once represented the team in the previous season have opted out of this 2021 season, forcing Coach Lisa Moreau to work with less options in upcoming games and practices which have already been shortened due to new Covid guidelines.

“This season is really unlike any other we’ve had. There are so many restrictions and rules that we have to follow,” sophomore setter Daylan Holness said. “One of them is that we have to wear masks even while we play because of how close we constantly are on the court. It’s really hard to play and do that with sweat getting everywhere. It makes it hard to breathe. It’s like extra conditioning.”

Another effect that Covid has had on the season is that fewer tournaments and games have been scheduled for the team this year, forcing them to focus their competition in Broward County and completely eliminate the occasional match in farther cities like Naples and Fort Myers. Additionally, the season is supposed to have started already, but numerous games have already been cancelled due to positive Covid cases on opposing sides and incomplete team rosters. Cooper City High School, a rival team , along with Nova High School, are two teams that have been forced to cancel their games against Heritage for these reasons.

However, the squad is scheduled to play Coral Springs High School Thursday March 4 without any reported reasons for cancellation, finally giving the team the opportunity to showcase their skills and officially start the season on a positive note.

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