It’s hard to imagine how wrestling would work during a pandemic. It’s a sport with skin-to-skin contact, and where wrestlers share sweat (and perhaps a bit of blood) with their opponents. Across the nation, many institutions have suspended their athletic seasons and tournaments to stop the spread, and Concord Academy is no different. As a member of the wrestling team who’s currently virtual, I can’t imagine how practices are continuing in-person. To gain some clarity, I spoke with Finn Boyle ’22, a current member of the wrestling team who is one of the seven students who are continuing to practice on campus.
For starters, the athletic schedule has changed drastically. Varsity level sports, which previously required five days of practice from 3:30 to 5:00, have been reduced to only two days a week for under two hours. In addition, practice has moved outside; wrestling now takes place on the Upper Field. Finn tells us that the no-contact, six feet social distancing has led to “no actual wrestling with contact, just more circuits and conditioning.”
Learning techniques has been difficult without wrestling partners. However the in-person team does try to “shadow-wrestle,” where they learn and practice new moves by themselves. Still, “shadow wrestling” is very different from practicing on a mat with a partner. The team has also started to do more intensive circuits, a carry-on from previous year practices with more intensity to condition themselves while also running around Concord. Finn says there’s a lot more emphasis on stretches to help fight against the “Zoom fatigue” and the sedentary lifestyle many are facing right now.
For such a contact sport, it’s hard to adhere to social distancing rules to keep the team safe. Additionally, this year has felt different because of the small number of people attending practices in person. However, Finn has told us that practices themselves are still fun and the group camaraderie is alive amongst the small team. As we are closing STAC 3 and more boarding students are preparing to return to campus, Finn looks forward to more members, as the wrestling team consists of a sizable boarding population. STAC 4 is also giving the team hope that more seniors will return to in-person practices, bringing their leadership and improving camaraderie.
Whether the team is on a green mat or the green grass, as we continue to progress through the season and as more members return to on-campus instruction, I’m sure the team will continue to prosper despite its challenges. Hopefully we can return to “normal” in such an abnormal year.