The 2021–22 school year was (almost) back to normal for Park’s student athletes. We returned to competition against other schools after a hiatus that began in February 2020 and we were delighted by the homecoming to familiar routines. For many athletes and families, it was also a year of firsts and new experiences.
For the first time in Park School history, Grade 5 students participated in interscholastic sports. Adding Grade 5 to our rosters brought wonderful excitement to our games and enabled our entire Upper Division to enjoy the trials, tribulations, joys, and exaltations of competition together. All of our fall teams competed well, and although we don’t define our success by wins and losses, it’s worth highlighting that our Grade 7/8 boys soccer team finished with a 9-2-0 record and our Grade 7/8 volleyball team remained undefeated throughout the season.
The lead up to the Winter season was filled with anticipation — vaccines had made it possible for indoor sports to take place safely, and all signs pointed to a season of loud, competitive matches and jubilant crowds cheering on our Park athletes. Enter Omicron. The variant threw in a curveball that might have been unbeatable had our program coordinators and coaches not proven themselves so adaptable. Masks remained a non-negotiable part of team uniforms, and to keep everyone safe, games took place without spectators. Families relied on post game, play-by-play descriptions provided by their athletes at the dinner table.
Despite COVID challenges, we had seven large team rosters and all of the teams played a full schedule of games throughout January and February. This was a first for our Grades 5–7 athletes! Park’s ice hockey team moved from practicing at Larz Anderson Rink to Roxbury Latin for the first time. And for the first time Park enjoyed a 6 AM hockey win against Beaver Country Day at Nobles. (Special commendation goes to the ice hockey parents who consistently got their kids to the rink at 6:15 AM for practice and supported the team at games all over suburban Boston!)
This season was the first time any of our present Park School athletes competed in spring interscholastic sports. Boys’ lacrosse, girls’ lacrosse, softball, and track and field all had terrific seasons in the shadow of the new field turf construction project. Though it was sometimes hard to hear the referee’s whistle or the starting gun over the jackhammer, Park’s athletes showed tremendous resilience and hard work. All teams were successful, both in terms of wins and improvement of performance, with perhaps the best example being the girls’ JV lacrosse team triumphing over Fay School 9–7 on the last day of the season.
The 2021–22 school year provided a great many challenges to athletes and coaches, which were met head on with a wonderfully positive attitude. Ultimately, the obstacles and opportunities to adapt taught us some terrific life lessons. We have a better appreciation for our coaches, opponents, teammates, officials, bus drivers, parents, and others who make our practices and games possible. After two years away from competition, it is clear that playing the games — not winning and losing — is what’s really important. And, truly, we’re just grateful to be playing games again!!