After a prolonged period throughout winter of not being allowed to train, Middle and High School students were eager to return to the court, pitch, and pool in late February. How has the last year shaped our programme? What have we gained from the experience as we look forward?
Read on to find out.
Haven’t we been here before?
As we pass the first anniversary of the first COVID 19 lockdown and reflect on the past 12 months, we are astonished by how much we were still able to accomplish. Being as agile and adaptable off the courts as some of our sporting heroes are on them has really paid off.
In March 2020, we had witnessed an end to the winter season without all its usual culminating events. Of course, this was frustrating, but that feeling soon gave way to understanding. At that point, we all realised the scale of the threat that our global community was facing. Despite this, some optimism remained that we would soon be back to training and competition. Maybe we can even travel to Spring ISSTs? Unfortunately, it was not to be. Rather than being totally dispirited by not being physically active and connected, the community came together virtually. Our 2020 ‘STJ physically active’ mosaic showcasing our community’s resilience encapsulated this sense of togetherness perfectly. As summer approached and restrictions eased, we returned somewhat refreshed. Spring Sports activities were back, and we hosted our very first fully remote Sports Awards Evening.
Moving into the Spring of 2021, we had some sense of ‘déjà vu’. In August, we had returned to school with open borders and full of optimism; We were going to compete in the ISSTs again, measuring ourselves against schools from around Europe. Our Fall sports teams had been able to train on a level close to pre-COVID times, and fixtures were planned in. However, as the season progressed, the rising numbers of cases in Belgium and around the globe dashed our hopes. The Fall season of 2020 would also come to an end without championship events.
Winter season sports experienced another flurry of sign-ups; we clearly hadn’t given up hope. Unfortunately, the restrictions remained in place. It became soon clear; We would not have a regular Winter season either. To fill the void, our coaches stepped up, offering online mindfulness sessions and remote workout sessions to keep the teams engaged.
Despite these necessary restrictions, we would not waiver in our commitment to connect with each other and improve ourselves. As the learning venue moved from The Arena and the Astroturf to the online forum, the process to diversify our offering gained new impetus. Coaches now had the opportunity to advance with video analysis, sports knowledge sessions, and team-building exercises.
Coach Anthony often jumped on many screens at once, to be in as many places as possible!
The light at the end of the tunnel
We were full of resolve. We were going to remain optimistic and make the best of a dire situation by connecting online. However, by the time the end of the Winter season approached, everyone was longing to be physically present, to truly “be” with friends, and participate in training again. Thankfully, Belgium’s situation improved enough for sports sessions to occur again; all be it with some restrictions. But that was not going to stop us. Everyone rallied to put together the best possible programme to close the Winter season, offering flexibility, enjoyment, and fun.
Our thanks go out to ... .
A huge thank you has to go to our STJ Lions sports coaches! They were challenged to push their coaching techniques, adapt to new environments, and keep developing our student-athletes’ skills, sometimes even in sports that they were not accustomed to coach. We are also highly grateful to our parent community, which has been very supportive throughout.
In the end, though, our most enormous thank you goes to the students themselves. They showed resilience, passion, and a drive that we cannot wait to see in action against our competitors.
As we enter the Spring season, we are busy planning for all eventualities, both in terms of training and competition. Throughout his process, we have been reminded why sport and physical activity are so important: because we want to have fun! Because we feel tremendous joy when we see our arenas packed and fields lined with cheering supporters. Because we crave the thrill of competition.
It all reminds us why sport is one of the main pillars at St John’s. Beyond the physical, it drives social, emotional, and psychological development. At St John’s, we are proud that alongside our Arts and Academic Programmes, we also empower our students to become better athletes and, more importantly, better people. With this philosophy as our bedrock, we are well prepared to embrace new challenges as they arise. Go Lions!