Ben Rihn ’22 Sports Editor
With the recent and ever-changing developments of the coronavirus and the prevalent mentality of social distancing, high school athletics have suffered serious setbacks due to the universal cancellation of the 2020 spring sports season. Many athletes have had to adjust their training and recruiting plans, and Mercersburg athletics faces the same challenges as schools across the country, highlighting the effects of the global pandemic. While there’s always the option to succumb to the despair that such difficulties can bring, they also present an opportunity to focus on character building in all aspects of the community, as individuals and parts of a group. The Mercersburg community, it seems, has dedicated efforts to the latter, especially in the athletic aspect of the school’s program.
An effective and attractive method of reaching out to other members of the community is through social media. Whether it be a result of a competitive spirit or severe boredom, the sports sections of social media platforms are developing ways of engaging would-be athletes, albeit at a distance. One that caught the eye of Mercersburg students, past and present, as well as faculty, centers on the juggling of a coveted roll of toilet paper in lieu of a soccer ball. Varsity boys soccer head coach Carl Stensland took a crack at it, providing a video submission alongside the numerous students and alumni who participated. “I know the alumni are very passionate about the program and they are always willing to help out in any way they can,” says Stensland, “[They] certainly strengthen our community and help give us a greater sense of pride in what we do.” The student submissions built on each other, each by adding a unique style and flair. The final compilation of all the videos represented the school’s athletic program as resilient, successfully mitigating the negative aspects of social distancing.
While connection and focus are important, another aspect of daily life that athletes cannot neglect is physical fitness. It can be difficult to find motivation to exercise during such a mentally exhausting but physically sedentary time. Additionally, finding resources to support the development of a determined mindset is an equally challenging task. Andrew Myers, the Associate Director of Athletics at Mercersburg Academy, has provided an incredible fitness program, along with an at-home workout challenge, for the benefit of the entire community. Myers said, “I created the challenges to try to inspire students to participate regularly in workout activities… I wanted to provide incentives for students to participate at home.” This option further facilitates the training protocols that have already been implemented through the first two terms of the year.
“I think that this time away from campus makes everyone, including me, appreciate things a lot more than ever, and I know that the relationships upon return to campus should be enhanced,” Myers states. It’s important to remember that a strong athletic community means no Blue Storm athlete ever has to feel alone. They are in this together as a cohesive unit, and form a bond from shared dedication to, faith in, and love for the game that is sports.