In Wake of COVID-19, TBS Turns to Intramural Sports

Football+and+volleyball+don%27t+look+the+same+this+year%2C+but+that+hasn%27t+stopped+the+players+from+having+fun.

Reid Waxman

Football and volleyball don’t look the same this year, but that hasn’t stopped the players from having fun.

If there are no helmets, no pads, and no tackling, is it still football? It’s hard to tell in this “new normal” that is the COVID-19 pandemic, but this is what football is like here at TBS. 

To limit possible exposure to the coronavirus, Benjamin’s administration has decided to not host or travel to other schools for the fall sports season. Instead, the Middle School has switched to intramural sports. This means having practices and “games” which are actually just intrasquad scrimmages.  

This may disappoint some people, but it is also the School’s responsibility to keep faculty and students safe. 

Seventh grader Dorian Preston makes a move on the sideline during practice as eighth grader Alex Ponchock looks on. (Reecie Hoben)

“I know people want to get back to normal, but there is a proper procedure to it,” said Middle School Head Football Coach Mr. Greg Keller. “[I’m] trying to make the point for eighth-graders that this is a time to get ready for high school, and seventh graders are getting ready for next year, and sixth graders are learning, so they will be better as seventh and eighth-graders. I am going to make it as fun as I can, but safety comes first.” 

There are 27 students who came out for middle school football this year, as opposed to 31 last year, and 34 middle school volleyball players compared to 36 last year. So the drop off has not been that significant. In other words, it doesn’t seem like the coronavirus kept kids off the gridiron or the court. 

The threat of the virus, however, is why fall sports are “in house” this year. 

“The only other teams who wanted to play us were schools in Broward County, and we don’t want their [high COVID] rate in Broward coming to Palm Beach,” said Middle School Athletic Director Mr. Toby Harbeck. “For the practices, we will do two scrimmages per week, and two days of practice.” 

Middle School Head Volleyball Coach Ms. Jackie Filia is trying her best to make her practices fun since there are no games to look forward to. 

“We have scrimmages to keep things fun, also so that we are getting game-like experiences,” she said. “I plan to conduct the practices so we can have a chance to develop skills as well as learn the game by participating in as close to real-life matches as possible.”

With teammate Treasure Stein watching, seventh grader Addison Walczak strikes the ball over the net during volleyball practice. (Reid Waxman)

The students don’t seem to mind the more casual atmosphere, even if they have to social distance from one another.

“It is still fun,” said seventh-grader Addison Walczak, a second-year volleyball player.  “We are scrimmaging a lot, and we still kind of feel [like] we are [playing] in a game.”

“Practices are definitely different,” said eighth-grade football player Sawyer LeFevre. “There are no pads. They don’t really push us as hard as if there were pads, and we were getting ready for a game.”