Proctor Athletics: Embracing a New Normal

Posted by River Turnbull '22

09/20/2020

As we conclude our first week back at Proctor, there remains a cloak of uncertainty over the campus. Although students and faculty alike are as connected as ever, the current state of the school in regards to COVID-19 is new to everyone. Faculty and Staff spent the better part of the summer planning every aspect of school in hopes that we would be able to return to in-person academics this fall. Aside from classes, one of the staples of Proctor life needed to be adjusted as well: afternoon activities. 

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Every student who attends Proctor is required to participate in an afternoon activity each trimester. These activities range from sports, such as traditional team sports like soccer, field hockey, and football, to less traditional sports like mountain biking and cross country running to  non-competitive activities like dance or the Woods Team. Each part of Proctor’s afternoon activities’ routine needed to be modified in order to keep the community safe from disease, one aspect being the Athletic Trainers. During the normal year, the afternoon brings a swarm of athletes to Proctor’s athletic training room in need of all kinds of treatment: tape, stim therapy, crutches, ice, etc. But with COVID added to the mix, the school cannot allow a large number of students to crowd into one room, so they have come up with a number of solutions. When asked how the Athletic Training Room has adjusted to the numerous COVID safety protocols, Kelly Griffin-Brown, one of the Athletic Trainers, confirmed how much has changed, “First thing is that we’re seeing kids by appointment for injuries, which we’ve never done before. Usually, it was an open-door, ‘come on in’ policy. With COVID we’ve had to separate six feet per patient, so we can only accommodate about four at a time.”

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In order to account for all students so that nobody would be late for practice, the Athletic Trainers not only set up an appointment system but also managed to maintain the old policy by creating an outside station where athletes can stop by whenever and get the basic treatment they need. In addition, Kelly and Chris Jones (Proctor’s second athletic trainer) is asking kids to be as responsible as possible for their own basic treatment, as COVID has made the system a little less time-efficient. And although it may seem unnecessarily troublesome to some, Kelly insists that Afternoon Activities are crucial to Proctor’s core, “I think that Afternoon Activity is more than just sports. It’s what you can find passion in in your life and I think a lot of students identify with either a team or an activity that really gives them that sense of purpose. We are about experiential education and afternoon activities are as experiential as learning gets.”

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In addition to the Athletic Training Room protocols, there were also a lot of changes made to the sports schedule, one of which was to reduce the number of competitions scheduled for the fall. When asked about the specific precautions taken by Proctor’s athletic teams, Director of Athletics Gregor Makechnie ‘90 shared, “Proctor collaborated with peer schools in the Lakes Region to create a set of shared practices that safeguard the health of students, coaches, and training staff.” Some of these practices include a mask mandate for all staff involved in games, numerous health screenings for all parties involved, and a very limited number of spectators. Perhaps most importantly, Gregor made it clear that these necessary precautions would not dampen the Afternoon Activity experience. “During the afternoons, meaningful relationships develop through shared experience. We build community. We develop the habits and skills necessary for physical, mental, and emotional health.  And, importantly, we have fun!”

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In times of uncertainty and dismay, such as this pandemic that continues to affect our lives, it is not surprising that the Proctor family has managed to continue to enjoy each and every day we share on this beautiful campus. And as long as this community continues to persevere, we will be able to preserve Proctor’s authenticity, in and out of the classroom.

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