McDonogh par­ents, ath­letes re­act

Nei­ther group is thrilled with fall post­pone­ment

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Kather­ine Fominykh

Se­nior tackle TJ Lewis, hon­estly, never re­ally felt too hope­ful he’d play in a McDonogh uni­form this fall.

As ri­vals around the Mary­land In­ter­scholas­tic Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion A Con­fer­ence grad­u­ally in­cor­po­rated hel­mets and pads into their work­outs, the Ea­gles main­tained so­cially dis­tant prac­tices with no con­tact, throw­ing, two days a week, 90 min­utes apiece.

“Wasn’t look­ing hot,” Lewis said.

Still, when he learned the MIAA and the In­ter­scholas­tic Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion of Mary­land ap­proved an “open sea­son,” giv­ing schools lee­way to sched­ule their own fall sports, Lewis felt a twin­kle of hope. Hope, ul­ti­mately, was dashed a few days later, as McDonogh post­poned its fall sports to the spring.

In an email sent to par­ents to Mon­day, McDonogh head of school David Farace ex­pressed un­der­stand­ing for a “mix of emo­tions” par­ents would feel at the news, but em­pha­sized a re­turn to full-con­tact ath­let­ics would “in­tro­duce un­nec­es­sary risk and un­der­mine cur­rent ef­forts to pro­tect the larger com­mu­nity.” The school has been op­er­at­ing in a hy­brid at­ten­dance for­mat, with some in-per­son learn­ing and vir­tual.

“League com­pe­ti­tion en­tails close phys­i­cal con­tact with stu­dents from other schools that may or may not have the same pro­to­cols and ex­pec­ta­tions in place, as well as in­ter­ac­tions with­out masks, in­creased time spent to­gether for travel, and the shar­ing of com­mon equip­ment,” Farace wrote in the email. “These in­ter­ac­tions in­crease the op­por­tu­nity for ath­letes to carry po­ten­tial in­fec­tion back to cam­pus and put our stu­dents, teach­ers, staff, and fam­i­lies at risk. This is a risk we can­not take.”

It was on Mon­day that Lewis re­al­ized his se­nior sea­son re­ally was in jeop­ardy.

“Dis­ap­pointed is the best word. I watched a lot of foot­ball in col­leges fig­ure it out, see the NFL fig­ure it out. See­ing high schools in Texas, other states fig­ure it out,” said Lewis, who noted his cousin has played ev­ery Fri­day in South Carolina this fall. “We couldn’t fig­ure it out.”

Alayna Lyn­chard, a se­nior cen­ter back for the McDonogh girls soc­cer team, had been eye­ing a fourth-straight IAAM A ti­tle along with her fel­low cap­tains. It had been their dream. Lyn­chard, a Mid­dle Ten­nessee State com­mit, broke her an­kle and would have missed this sea­son re­gard­less. She wanted to sit on the side­lines and cheer her team­mates.

Now, she looks around and sees her ri­vals gear­ing up.

“It’s hard to see the peo­ple we would have been play­ing get­ting ready to go play and do what we want to do,” Lyn­chard said.

On Fri­day morn­ing, Lyn­chard and her team­mates sent a let­ter to the ad­min­is­tra­tion signed by 39 mem­bers of McDonogh’s fall teams.

“We just wanted to ex­press our sad­ness,” Lyn­chard said.

The like­li­hood of ac­tu­ally play­ing foot­ball in the spring seems so dim to Lewis. The Ea­gles’ A Con­fer­ence op­po­nents, in­clud­ing Calvert Hall and Mount St. Joseph, al­ready ex­pressed in­tent to play this fall.

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