Malvern’s Modified Winter Sports Season

As Malvern’s winter sports programs continue to be delayed by COVID-19, they have found ways to adapt, bringing a modified winter sports experience to the Malvern students.

With coaches making changes for their athletes and doing their best to get a normal season, Athletic Director Jim Stewart Jr, swim team coach Jay Schiller, and indoor track coach Erik Miller talk about what changes they have made this winter season.

“I think we’re adapting to the job policy lab. Dr. Rubin, a doctor at the Children’s Research Hospital of Philadelphia, who we followed very closely, the last few months, and any changes to CDC guidelines and how they affect schools so we’ve adapted very well,” said Stewart. 

“I think that the Caritas committee has been a huge help to the Athletic Department in two ways: weekly updates on where things are within the school community, and anytime there is a question from a coach or for me, somebody is always available to answer our questions for us. I’m really happy with the teamwork that’s gone into how we’ve adapted to a very challenging situation, especially in the winter,” he continued. Like most sports,the swim team has been preparing all year for their season. The swimmers are hoping to compete in some swim meets in the near future.

“Earlier on in September we were able to get in the water a little bit, which was nice because normally that’s the time where I’m not able to work with our guys. We were able to hold some workouts in the fall, before fall sports began, so that was kind of nice to get the swimmers in the water,” said Schiller. Since COVID-19 is more contagious indoor’s, sports like indoor track have had to modify their events and capacity while competing and practicing.

“With indoor track, everyone is piled into one building, so what they’ve done is they’ve reduced the amount of events that are being run,” said Miller. “So instead of all the events like we normally do, they’re only doing maybe 75%, and then they’re limiting the amount of teams that can come and participate.” 

While the status of championship meets is up in the air, the Winter Track team will still have opportunities to compete this season and have been practicing fairly normally.

“I don’t know if there’ll be a state championship, but there’s usually a meet every weekend so there’s probably only going to be a couple meets this winter. As far as practice goes, and with the shot putters, we would usually go outside,” said Miller.

With most indoor spaces at full capacity, athletes must move to another space.

 “There’s not a ton of space for us to practice inside so that really hasn’t changed a whole lot. We used to throw on the wall here in the weight room, and the problem is with the limited numbers that are allowed in here it’s hard to actually have throwing practice and let kids lift at the same time.” 

As the Coronavirus continues to delay many things, one being the recruiting process, athletes find ways to work through it.

“Certainly it’s harder because they haven’t been able to post times this year. But we were lucky last year to get a full season. Based on some of the guys’ times that they were able to put up and dives that they were able to do last year, that’s helped them get into the recruiting picture,” said Schiller.

Since homerooms are now moved into gyms and other big spaces it has been taking away space for activities but it has also allowed Malvern to control a safe area for students to stay distanced after completing a health screening. 

“The screenings for homerooms have helped because through Magnus, we can check every day if the student is good to go. If they are an athlete, they will see in the daily attendance list and share with us by morning every day someone’s out,” said Stewart. “A coach is able to track who may or may not be here. It was very good communication for [school nurse] Mrs. Malone if there is a coaching situation.”

As COVID cases continue to increase, Malvern must consistently make sure cases are isolated to ensure safety in the school community.

“The first month or two, we were still trying to figure it out back in September in October, and numbers were very very low back then,” said Stewart. “Then all of a sudden around Thanksgiving we really got into a daily rhythm of making sure that if there was a positive case of or keeping those groups isolated and forming the families what they needed to do. It’s an ongoing challenge but we’ve gotten used to it.”

As Malvern’s winter sports are learning and trying their best to have a season to the fullest extent, if all goes well the Spring season should start as scheduled on March 2nd.