McDonogh parents, athletes react
Neither group is thrilled with fall postponement
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.