During a normal fall season, Thacher students spend their afternoons developing skills, increasing their physical fitness, and often competing in activities that include football, cross country, tennis, rock climbing, dance, and of course riding. This year, covid safety protocols ruled out interscholastic sports and complicated our ability to pursue most of these activities, but by following MODS (masked, outdoors, distanced, small groups) guidelines, our new afternoon activities program has given students (and their coaches) a wide range of ways to get outside, move around, and try something new or deepen skills in a familiar pursuit. Thanks to sunny Southern California weather and a campus that offers endless opportunities, it hasn’t been half bad. And as on-campus restrictions relax, it’s only going to get better.
Ms. Pinard, Thacher’s new athletic director, designed the phased afternoon program to adjust as conditions dictate. Fortunately, recent coronavirus trends in Ojai and Ventura County have been positive, adherence to safety protocols on campus has been strong, and Thacher has remained free of cases. These positive signs translate into increased freedoms in our afternoon programs.
As of November 1, when we enter phase III, teams will begin meeting for group activities without physical contact. “In Phase III basketball players are only allowed to do drills, but in Phase IV, they will be allowed to scrimmage,” explained Ms. Pinard. Boys’ basketball coach Mr. Carney shared his enthusiasm about finally getting to work with his team: “I'm pumped! We had a special season last winter and have loads of leadership and talent returning to do something similar this year. Even though we'll be out on the courts wearing masks initially, it will be awesome to reconnect with the fellas and start working hard, having fun, and making memories.”
We have come a long way. As students returned to campus and waited out their isolation periods they were able to participate in skateboarding, yoga, dance, and fitness center workouts. By early October we had advanced to the next phase, adding disc golf, trail crew, and recreational running as some of the dozen or so activities students enjoyed. In mid-December, we plan to begin phase IV, which will allow contact between players.
We may not be competing against other schools for a while, but thanks to these activities the Toad spirit is strong and getting stronger.