The 2020 Basketball Season: What We Know Now

Nikhil Webb-Walker and Reilly Dillon

As COVID-19 cases climb again, reaching similar numbers to last April, the 2020 MIAA basketball season seems more unlikely by the day. Players, coaches and fans are losing hope as the winter sport season creeps up on us. As numbers of cases begin to reach new heights, it’s increasingly likely that the school itself may shut down in the coming weeks. If that were to happen, the basketball and entire winter sports season would most likely be confirmed to not happen, unless another solution is offered, such as moving the season. Although the season has a low chance of starting, the people who care haven’t lost hope. They continue to put in work safely at outdoor courts, work out on their own, and even though all of this is harder than ever, they push through these trying times everyday. One of those players is Jayden Halecki. 

We interviewed Jayden about the season and how he’s been preparing, despite the difficulties due to COVID.  He mentioned that he’s been “going to the Y with a few guys as much as he can,” referring to teammates he’s been playing with for some time now. Since it would be his senior season, he put in more work than ever before. He described his workout as “very hard and consistent, with increasing productivity.”  He said it “readied [him] for the season and for any basketball that’s coming up” and that if they play he’ll be better than ever. Jayden said that “almost all” of his training this off-season happened at the Y. He said the outdoor court gave him  “home field advantage” and joked about possibly having an outdoor season. However, when thinking about it, he quickly realized that snow and cold weather conditions would make outdoor play impossible. Jayden also went on to say that he hopes to have a season “as similar to normal as possible.” He wants there to be contact, no masks and no restrictions, but he does understand that taking COVID seriously is our number one priority. He said, “I really want to play, but I can understand not having a season.” Not only has Jayden has prepared himself for the season extremely well, putting in the work needed for him and the team to be successful this year, but he’s also educated himself on COVID-19 so he can be safe while training and keep others around him just as safe. 

Similarly, coaching is going to need to change significantly in order for a season to start. Coaches need to figure out practices, what teams to play, make adjustments to the new COVID rules and so much more. We reached out to Mr. Laroche to see if he had any information or strategies to plan for this. He was looking into out of school coaching, but in a discussion with Mr. Gallagher decided against it unless other Cape Ann schools start to take steps in that direction. Mr. Laroche sadly doesn’t know much more than us, which is to be expected as every week it seems like new information comes out contradicting what we’d previously heard. However, he expects to hear a final decision about the season even happening “a couple weeks into November.” As beforehand we had no idea what was going on, it was encouraging to hear they’re close to a decision. He also detailed what a possible season could look like: “I want it to be as normal as possible with contact, but maybe we could only play the Cape Ann small teams, and play less games.”  I thought this idea was great, and in a basketball meeting that came only a few days after, it seems increasingly likely that we would do that. He ended up sharing the idea with others who are helping decide if and how the season will happen, including Mr. Gallagher, and they liked the idea. Although the meeting made us feel better about the season, we realize that as COVID begins to come back the season’s chances lower. In the last few days we have reached similar numbers to last April, when we were shut down.

Whether or not to have a season is not the only consideration; there are many things that are going to be a factor in this decision. Mr. Laroche said that the cancellation of the volleyball season really made him “lose hope” and that it “was really defeating,” as that was the only fall indoor sport. He also let us know that there might not even be playoffs this year, and that this year we have the “best team skill-wise” that he’s ever coached and envisioned the team going far. Despite all the bad news, we continued to remain hopeful. Mr. Laroche was hopeful for a “late winter or spring season” this year. Mr. Laroche is optimistic as we all are, but there is only a chance that anything happens at all, and that chance is only growing slimmer. Even though nothing is set in stone, what we learned from our interviews was that there’s a real chance that a season will happen because coaches and the athletic director want it as badly as the players. 

The season is definitely not going to be normal. It definitely won’t play at the same time or play as many teams as normal, it definitely won’t have the same rules and it definitely won’t be the same. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be one. Even though all of that will change, we’re continuing to keep hope and prepare for the season no matter what challenges are thrown our way.