Just like the other Tri-Town-area high schools, Old Colony and Old Rochester, Tabor Academy is not holding interscholastic sports in the fall because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But while the MIAA gave schools the option to opt for a “Fall II” season in which Old Colony and Old Rochester plan to participate, Tabor student-athletes are not being given the same chance by the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC).
“As we enter into the winter we’ll evaluate and again figure out if competition is possible,” Tabor’s Director of Athletics, Con Leary, said. “But there is no intention of changing the seasons or modifying the seasons. A big reason for that is so many of our athletes at these (NEPSAC) schools are multiple-sport athletes and contributing in so many different areas.
“I appreciate the NEPSAC putting their heads together, surveying and asking all the AD’s. I think, ultimately, I think you have to take it as it comes, and it’s sad. Last spring was a huge bummer, and fall is a huge bummer for a lot of these kids who could be playing their last season altogether. We do feel terrible for them, but it’s one of those things where you take it as it comes and we try to do our absolute best to provide the best experience possible (for our student-athletes) so they can at least feel good about this very unfortunate situation.”
Along with the cancellation of fall interscholastic sports for 2020, Tabor put a rule in place regarding club sports. Student-athletes who chose to play for those teams in the fall have been asked to be a “remote online learner” until the season ends or they “can enter back into the school as a boarding or day student after a 14-day quarantine prior to returning on campus” on one of Tabor’s three prescribed arrival dates per a school statement: September 21, October 12 or in January (TBD).
With so many Tabor student-athletes looking to play beyond their prep days, Leary and the rest of the athletic department had to find a way to help their student-athletes continue to develop.
“We have chosen to basically create one level of each program so football just has one level, field hockey just has one level, girls soccer (and) boys soccer, rather than have multiple teams,” Leary said. “The main thing with those sports is they have varying degrees of risk as far as exposure goes. Rather than have all of these kids involved in this type of stuff, what we did was narrow it down to the kids that are really looking to continue to develop, continue to grow as an athlete. I don’t want to call it varsity, but it is more of a higher level.”
Along with developing these athletes, Tabor also wants to provide student-athletes the chance to catch the eye of college coaches. “We have the ability to film and share everything on Hudl, if there are college coaches out there looking for specific stuff on a kid,” Leary said.
Additionally, Tabor created “recreational sessions” so students not participating in the training camp can play sports like badminton and kickball.
Whether it’s the training camp or the “recreational sessions,” Tabor is making sure student-athletes and staff members are sticking to the CDC guidelines, wearing masks, and maintaining social distance. From what Leary can tell, everyone at Tabor likes the adjustments that have been made during this challenging time.
“I think the big thing is for us, as it is for most places, is about community and health first. Then we build up from there,” he said. “Our health services (department) here at Tabor is awesome. They’re heavily involved along with our athletics offices and our athletic trainers to make sure we’re doing the absolute best we can to keep everyone healthy and safe and provide a good experience.”
By Nick Friar