Norfolk Academy is finding creative ways to continue athletic participation amid the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.
Academy considers athletics an integral part of the school’s overall educational experience. It contributes to the physical, mental, social, and emotional well-being of every student-athlete in a manner consistent with the school's overall Philosophy and Objectives.
With that in mind, Academy began exploring the best and safest ways to offer athletics almost as soon as the decision was made to hold on-campus classes during this school year.
Shortly before classes resumed in August, student-athletes participated in socially distanced conditioning exercises on the Wynne-Darden Stadium field. Teacher-coaches organized and oversaw these drills, which included temperature checks and hand cleaning, and required masks to be worn before and after workouts and during breaks.
Next, team training camps ran successfully from late September into early November, with several hundred student-athletes across Middle and Upper School participating in the masked, socially distanced after-school activities. Then, varsity and JV winter team workouts for grades 9-12 began November 10. Workouts for 7th and 8th graders began November 23.
After a few weeks of practices, basketball players began intramural contests, which are scheduled to run until late January. Cheerleaders have been cheering at some of these games, creating the environment of a typical season.
In addition, Academy hosted a virtual swimming and diving meet December 11-12. Swimmers and divers have more virtual meets scheduled throughout January, with some of their scores counting toward the upcoming VISAA meet.
For safety reasons and in following state guidelines on gatherings, visitors are not yet allowed to watch contests in person. NA-TV, the student-led broadcast channel for Academy events, is airing many of the contests so families can watch from home.
Student-athletes in other sports continue to bond together as teams. Wrestlers are working hard on fundamentals during practices, making improvements even though they are not yet cleared for competitive events. Because wrestling is deemed high-risk, many schools and athletics organizations are prohibiting wrestling matches at this time.
In addition, the Norfolk Academy Track & Field Classic was held in early December. This event brought together track and field athletes, swimmers, basketball players, and wrestlers, for a fun afternoon of track competition. Perhaps not shockingly, track won both boys and girls competitions, but all teams recorded points.
Academy is still in the process of evaluating protocols around opening up all teams to interscholastic competitive play. The Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools, in which NA competes, adjusted its calendar amid the pandemic. It elected to begin the school year with winter team workouts, from roughly late November until late January. Fall sports will take place over the next two months, with spring sports in their typical spot, starting in late March and concluding in May.
This is in line with what many athletics organizations, including the Virginia High School League, are doing. All schools in the TCIS have agreed, per a joint statement, “to adhere to risk mitigation protocols, to prioritize participation over competitive standings, and to maintain mutual trust and communication among our schools in the interest of serving the health and safety of our student-athletes.”
To learn more about Academy athletics, please visit the school website.