Winter sports coaches, athletes working to get season underway in next few weeks

Senior Chris Mitchell dribbles down the court at practice in preparation for the basketball season. (Photo by Carolyn Isaly)

As fall sports are coming to a close, the gym doors are opening, wrestling mats are being rolled out and the pool is being refilled in anticipation of the winter sports season.

Girls basketball coach Brycen Baugh said that to be ready to play and stay in shape, the team had scrimmages and shooting practices throughout June and July.

“During the summer, we had practices where we would record how many shots were taken and of those, how many were made,” Baugh said.

Boys basketball coach Todd Phillips said the team has been lifting, shooting, holding open gyms and traveling to play at team camps.

“Camps are always a big help because you get to play other schools, rather than just lifting and open gyms,” Phillips said.

Swim coach Sandy Sliwowski explained that it was difficult for the team to practice together over the summer because swimmers participate in other sports.

Sophomore Anja Hoy said that she participated in a club team at St. Charles Preparatory School in the offseason, which allowed her to feel more prepared for the upcoming season.

“I swim year round, so I can continue to stay in shape,” she said.

Sliwowski said that practices will go back to their normal schedule this year.

“We will have evening practices, which I know will excite many of the swimmers,” Sliwowski said. “Those 5 a.m. wake up calls were brutal.”

Senior Tarun Rai said that the wrestling team struggled to practice together this year, but he still feels confident that the team will have a good season.

“If everyone sticks with the sport, I feel like we will do very well this year,” he said.

Rai explained that last year the wrestling team had trouble recruiting athletes.

“We have a lot of people who had to take last year off due to COVID-19,” Rai said. “My hope is that people will feel more comfortable this year and try out again.”

Phillips said that COVID-19 also affected the boys basketball team because they were unable to have fans watching their games.

“We are looking forward to having [fans] back in the stands,” Phillips said. “It was very strange playing last year in front of nobody, and the game is not the same without the fans.”

He said that he is confident in the team’s ability to improve upon their 6-6 record from last year. He added that he believes the team needs to truly come together to win.

“We are optimistic that we will be pretty good,” Phillips said.

Baugh said he also felt that the girls basketball team will be good enough to beat last year’s record of 8-5.

Cheer coach Brooke Wojcik said despite the lack of fans, the winter cheer team was still there to support the basketball teams.

“Even though there weren’t any fans last season, our spirit helped motivate the team,” she explained.

Outside of supporting the team, Wojcik said that this year the cheer team will be competing in the first ever Mid-State League cheer competition Sunday, Nov. 21.

“It’s something that our league has never done before but will be great practice for our team leading up to the regional and state competitions,” Wojcik said.

Last winter, the team won the Division 3 state championship, she added.

“Fingers crossed for this year,” Wojcik said. “We probably have our most talented group we’ve ever had, and I’m hopeful that we can win states again this year.”