By Shoki Nemoto ’21 NEWS Reporter
In adapting to the pandemic, many unforeseen changes have occurred in recent months. Luckily, Mercersburg was quick to adapt. By implementing appropriate and effective protocols, the school has enabled the majority of its students to return to on-campus learning this fall. One of the many privileges of on-campus learning was the athletes’ return to Mercerburg’s vast green fields, tennis courts, and cross country courses. But athletics this fall are by no means traditional. The athletics department has made significant efforts in keeping Mercerburg’s students safe with its mask, sanitation, and physical-distancing policies.
However, there are many other changes outside of the athletic department, including inside the offices of the Goldthorpe Athletic Complex. Rick Hendrickson, who has long led the Mercersburg athletics department, has transitioned to the role of Interim Dean of Experiential Programs. Lauren Hoffman and Paul Sipes, who were previously the Assistant Directors of Athletics, are entering the roles of Interim Associate Directors of Athletics. Hendrickson explained that his new responsibilities include “oversee[ing] school programming related to the experiential learning of students that connects with, and moves beyond, the classroom. This includes working with PGA directors and the Director [of] Global Programs. The DEP also oversees the risk management of student travel programs and for supporting initiatives across the curriculum that provide opportunities for students as we target and prioritize our co-curricular options.” In this new position, Hendrickson aims to “engage students more in programming that appeals to their interests, their talents, and their [individual] skill sets.” Sipes and Hoffman are transitioning as well and will be leading the athletics department this year. Hoffman explained: “I primarily work with the girls’ teams whereas [Paul] Sipes works with the boys’ teams.” These shifts come at an interesting time, one that provides an opportunity to adapt to any roadblock thrown in the an athletic program’s path.“If there is a year to shift some mindsets, I truly believe we are in the driver seat; we have the ability to take whatever school decision is made, and create programming for Athletics that is not only creative and unique, but programming that impacts every single coach and every single kid who is training and/or competing”, Hoffman commented
The senior class has especially been plagued with a truly uncertain fall athletic season. “I feel very deep obligations to seniors at Mercersburg […] that hope to play at the next level, to help them achieve that,” Sipes said. He also highlighted a new program this year named “Elevate Fitness, which is a […] program that allows [the school] to work with athletes with talent and the drive to continue their athletic pursuits after Mercersburg. And really work on their athleticism, […] physical abilities, and […] their sports-specific skills during […] their off-season[s].” “I’d like to challenge athletic leadership and all of our coaches to be ‘all in’”, Hoffman stated, “The most important thing for our coaches to know is that if they are ‘all in’ and athletic leadership is ‘all in’ then we are being our very best everyday for our kids.”