Ben Rihn ‘22 Sports Editor
A lack of interscholastic competition has left a majority of students concerned about the purpose of the fall athletic season. Not only does this absence cloud the focus of daily practices for both coaches and student athletes, but the answer to the question of whether fall sporting events could return from their hiatus is still speculative. With uncertainty and worries, though, come a chance to deviate from the norm and to try something new.
The Blue Storm football team has chosen to do just that. By stepping outside the typical boundaries of athletics against other schools in the Keystone State Football League, the team has found a way to compete that accommodates for the physical distancing restrictions: they have gone virtual!
The Blue Storm football team has taken initiative to seek out an interim possibility for competition with their Keystone rivals. Head coach Andy Brown stated that representatives from each school communicated to form a system that would take the place of in-person games. “We had a coaches meeting and wanted to make sure [the teams] could continue to compete against each other during this unprecedented time.”
The result? It turns out that a virtual interface is a perfect way to monitor the performance of each school in a series of physical tests, which are similar to those in an NFL combine, according to Brown. “Some events that we are competing in are the vertical jump, broad jump, 40 yard dash, shuttle run, QB throwing challenges, linemen challenges, [and others].” Days in which the athletes compete follow a regimented structure all condensed to fit inside thirty minutes of practice time. Mercersburg Academy athletes, along with those from competing schools, participate in the challenges. Five scores from each team can then be forwarded to the statistical scoreboard and contribute to the overall standings. As of now, the Blue Storm maintains and celebrates the first place position.
While the hopes of a return to play next year undermine the longevity of these virtual competitions, they certainly stimulate a high morale in the football team. Evan Howley ’22 stated, “Since we do not have any games, it is definitely something to keep us going.” A motivation to excel also derives from the leadership roles taken on by many of the older members of the team. Howley added that he takes pride in his position, “As a junior, I must lead the team with the senior boys.”
Jake Ahlgren ’21 attributed the effort and work ethic to the responsibility of the student athletes, but he also stated, “Energy is high because the coaching staff manages to get us excited for whatever is going on during practice.” They have managed to form an all-inclusive cohesive unit that has taken the fall season to a new level. As a result it is safe to say that the Mercersburg football team will be well prepared for next season.