“I’ve always been grateful for the incredible spirit in this school. Pep rallies, rocking stands, and a community that fully supports its children,” football coach Bob Wager said in regards to sporting events prior to the outbreak of COVID-19.
As seniors tackle their final season of fall sports, they reflect upon their successes and setbacks.
“I believe this year being so unique due to the pandemic has really bonded the squad and made us all closer as we go through this abnormal year together,” senior cheer captain Sydney Taylor said. “We have really had to rely on and uplift each other which has helped us get to know each other in more of a real-life conversational way versus in a cheer only environment.”
Football practices throughout the pandemic have required discipline and patience of both coaches and student-athletes.
“While not actively involved in practice, players are socially distanced,” Wager said. “Most of our team is learning remotely for safety reasons… and I say, ‘Spread out’ 500 times per day.”
The student section attendance at football games has been sparse compared to prior seasons. This hasn’t affected the overall mood of the football players, cheerleaders, and students in the stands.
“Having smaller student sections definitely seemed like a bummer, but the people that have been able to come and watch have brought a lot of energy to make up for the lack of numbers,” Taylor said. “The team brings energy no matter what, and the football team and coaches have also been great at adding energy.”
Along with the overcome challenges of COVID-19, there have been many setbacks for the athletic department.
“The month of May brought a new challenge to the forefront,” Wager said. “We could not gather as a group during this time, which made it more difficult to listen, learn, love, and then lead.”
“Some negatives that the team has faced include being unable to host and perform at pep-rallies, not being able to attend camp, having less time to prepare for UIL competition, and having smaller crowds at games due to capacity restrictions,” Taylor said.
Even with these abnormal circumstances, “We are optimistic about our ability to continue to play and play well,” Wager said. “I am extremely proud of our players, trainers, and coaches for their total commitment to playing as safely as possible.”
Along with football, cheer also has an optimistic perspective on the rest of the school year.
“We have recently found out we will be able to participate at competition in January, so that was a happy surprise,” Taylor said. “Hopefully, the situation is less severe in the spring and we have the opportunity to safely hold a spring pep rally.”
Many worries for the future have risen due to the decrease in funding through ticket sales and fundraisers.
“I don’t think we’ll feel the financial effects of this in 2020,” Wager said. “I am concerned about the 2021/2022 school year as it pertains to finance.”
“Yes, the pandemic definitely made me realize how much I took for granted our packed student sections and spirit days, and pumped up game days,” Taylor said. “I’m so lucky to go to a school that has as much spirit and participation as Martin, and I’ll definitely cherish that more now.”