By Sarah Linthicum
As COVID-19 cases continue to surge, the unfortunate announcement of the cancellation of the Howard County winter sports season set to begin on January 11th was made. With that being said, the fall sports season is set to take place February 13th, and coaches are making their best effort to make the season possible.
Hammond Athletics and Activities Manager, Mr. Lerner, shared that the positivity rate in cases is going down in Howard County, as he continues to monitor the numbers closely. In order for athletics to take place, Howard County must be under 5% in positive cases for 2 weeks, and as of this past week it was close to 6.5%. Seeing the decline in cases and hoping for a successful season has Mr. Lerner cautiously optimistic. “It is not possible to predict every obstacle, but we are doing our best to provide the best experience we can for our athletes… they deserve it!”
Hopeful and preparing for the upcoming fall season, Mr. Lerner further shared that Hammond has purchased a lot of cleaning supplies and equipment to sanitize the areas athletes will be playing on. He has been in constant communication with all of Hammond’s coaches, and he is doing his best to keep everyone updated on the latest Health Department and CDC Guidelines. Although the winter season unfortunately could not happen, coaches and athletes are optimistic for the success of a fall season.
Indoor track athlete, Hammond High senior Layla Hamro, shared one of her favorite memories. “Being able to go to a track meet in New York was an amazing opportunity and overall just fun!” She said that she was always excited to see her friends at practice, and she was grateful to be on a team with them.
Seeing as fall sports don’t typically take place in February, and construction work continues throughout Hammond, athletes may face a few other obstacles besides the pandemic. With the turf field being the only field to have lights, the short amount of daylight will be an obvious obstacle, not to mention the possibility of snow. Luckily, Mr. Lerner reported that the construction going on will have some impact, but not as much as people may think. Despite those anticipated challenges, Lerner explained, “We will do our best to create an equitable game/practice schedule for every team [and] games and practices should be able to go on as scheduled.”
Cheerleader and Hammond High senior Angie Loayza shared that her favorite memory of the winter season, “was all the new friends I made. I met a lot of new people who I became close with and had a lot of fun with.” Her favorite memories include both watching the basketball games and celebrating her graduating teammates on senior night.
Knowing the lost winter season may have been the final season to many seniors, Lerner shared that coaches are preparing google slide presentations to honor their seniors. He says, “We want to make sure our seniors know we feel for them, love them, and will do everything we can to help them, both now and in the future.”
It is important to stay hopeful in times like this, but above all, safety is the number one priority. Coaches and athletes continue to stay optimistic and hopeful that there will be a fall athletics season at Hammond in February.