Sports return to SM North


Evan Whitaker

Senior Jacob Slobodzian runs with the pack at the Midseason Hootenanny. Slobodzian placed 53 in the JV race. Evan Whitaker

Gage Chapman, Writer/Photographer

After a board meeting on Sept. 9 the Shawnee Mission Board of Education decided to allow all fall sports. It’s already late September but most teams are just getting started.

Head Football coach Andrew Walter has certainly had an interesting first year, especially when it comes to dealing with the pandemic’s effects on schools.

“The uncertainty was the hardest part,” Walters said. “Usually football has a very predictable schedule and calendar, but this year the calendar was changing every few days which made it difficult to create practice plans and gameplans.”

Throughout the uncertainty, coaching staff and athletes have remained positive.

“The players and coaches have been amazing,” Waters said. “The players have taken all of the changes in stride and have continued to work hard even with all the changes”

The SMN Cross Country team ran separately throughout the summer to try and get ready for the season.

“I think the biggest challenge was just trying to keep the kids motivated to run without meeting with them or without them being able to officially meet for practice together,” said head cross country coach Aaron Davidson.

Due to the fact that athletes and coaches weren’t allowed to meet as a team during the summer, athletes were left to workout by themselves as coaches gave them suggestions on what they could do.

“The expectation was slightly different because the accountability was not the same when you are just suggesting a workout and then you are hopefully trusting the kids are going to do it,” Davidson said.

Now in season, the cross country team is looking ahead to the fast-approaching regionals and state meets which are only 4 and 5 weeks away.

“I think our kids have shown some endurance, not so much physical endurance as in like running endurance, but just like some mental endurance and some perseverance to get through all the challenges and still be motivated to run and be a part of the team,” Davidson said. “So I’ve been really proud of them for that.”

The pandemic has also interrupted the social aspects of sports, including events such as team dinners, fundraisers and team trips.

“A lot of Cross country is social, it’s a sport where kids work hard and you kind of fill in between thehard stuff with like social activities and team bonding stuff,” Davidson said. “You try to make a fun environment when you’re not working hard to try to keep spirits high, and to keep kids engaged and excited.”

Associate Principal David Ewers understands the challenges that the teams and coaches are going throughin regards to the season.

“The changing nature of what sports look like has to be challenging for the teams,” Ewers said. “The sport is the same, obviously, but some of the things that teams do to build camaraderie have been eliminated for safety concerns.”

Nonetheless, all the teams are happy to be back and to have a chance at a season.

“I am thankful the students are getting this opportunity, and with that opportunity comes the responsibility of following the policies and procedures set by our district,” Ewers said. “Teams should be thankful for each day they get to compete and treat it like the gift that it is.”