COVID-19 and Soccer: England and Montgomery, NJ

by Zeb Jerdonek ’24

Source: skysports.com

Published Nov. 11th, 2020

In England, the Premier League has not gone on hiatus despite a second wave with over 20,000 new cases everyday. In order to minimize the risk of infection and rapid spreading, the Premier League has performed 12,804 tests from August 31 to October 25, with 44 players testing positive for Covid-19, including talented stars such as Sadio Mane (Liverpool F.C.), Paul Pogba (Manchester United F.C.), Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City F.C.), and Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City F.C.).

COVID-19 has had a significant financial impact on both leagues, with hundreds of millions of dollars in losses resulting from loss of ticket revenue as well as a sudden need for screening tests and related medical equipment. In order to compensate for this, clubs are forced to cut the salaries of staff and athletes, and sometimes even layoff staff members.

In the Montgomery High School Soccer program, the impact of COVID-19 has been noticeable, albeit less significant than in pro sports.

“Our routine is largely the same as in other years. Obviously, social distancing at practice, games and on the bus is different for us, but the work on the field and the routines of practices and games remain unchanged,” says Coach Mueller, the boys Junior Varsity Soccer Team head coach.

Instead, the biggest change is with player preparation. “COVID shortened our preseason this year and didn’t allow our students to play pick up soccer, organized soccer, or have captain practices…to improve their fundamentals all summer long,” says Coach Figeuroa, the Boys Freshman Soccer Team head coach. This has resulted in some weaknesses on the team, including communication. He goes on to say, “We lack [communication] this year more than any other year as I feel we are disconnected some games and need more leadership and players talking.”

Strong preparation and team chemistry are just as important this year as any other year, as Coach Steeb, the Boys Varsity Soccer Team coach, adds: “The Skyland Conference is one of the top Conference’s in the state. The level of competition is always high,”

All in all, COVID-19 has affected soccer on both an international and local level, posing financial and talent issues respectively. As the pandemic continues to sweep across the world in waves, our experience with the 2020 soccer season shows that it is possible to successfully play contact sports despite the uncertainty facing the globe.

Stepping On the Gas: Pierre Gasly Has Been F1’s Driver of the Year

by Tom Athron ’21

Source: Republic World

Published Nov. 11th, 2020

In the world of Formula One, there is only so much a driver can do behind the wheel of a poor car and success is often impossible.

That is, unless your name is Pierre Gasly.

Even in a 2020 F1 season full of standout races and drivers, Pierre Gasly’s story is easily one of the highlights of the season.

After being demoted from the Red Bull Racing team halfway through the 2019 campaign, few expected much from the young Frenchman. Not many would have expected the Frenchman to have the incredible resurgence he’s had at the Red Bull “sister team,” AlphaTauri.

Gasly was dropped from his team, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, halfway through the 2019 season due to poor performance. He was then demoted to Scuderia AlphaTauri, Red Bull’s de-facto B-team, named Scuderia Toro Rosso at the time.

Things worsened for Pierre when his close friend and compatriot Anthoine Hubert was tragically killed in an accident during the F2 feature race in Belgium prior to that week’s F1 race.

Spurred on by a desire to honor his deceased friend, Gasly finished 9th, driving one of the most standout performances of that year’s Belgian Grand Prix. His race prompted many F1 fans and analysts to praise him for finishing so well in a car expected to finish well out of point-scoring positions.

This kickstarted a blazing run of performances that culminated in an incredible podium finish at the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos.

Gasly continued his incredible form into the 2020 season, scoring points at the first race of the season in Austria. Continuing to outperform his car at every opportunity, he has been widely considered one of the drivers of the season.

Then came the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, exactly one year after Hubert’s tragic passing at the same track.

Determined to honor Anthoine, Gasly finished brilliantly in 8th, one place better than his 2019 result.

Wearing a special tribute helmet to his lost friend, Pierre dedicated his race result to Anthoine.

One week later was the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

After one of the most chaotic races in the past few years, Gasly ended up winning in a dramatic finish. It was AlphaTauri’s second ever win, and only their fourth ever podium finish.

It was Gasly’s first win in Formula One, and the first win by a French driver in 24 years.

Gasly’s run of incredible form shows no signs of stopping as he keeps delivering outstanding results for an AlphaTauri team that clearly values him much more than the main Red Bull team did.

With the team’s recent confirmation that Pierre will drive for AlphaTauri next season, many fans now eagerly await the next chapter in Pierre Gasly’s incredibly dramatic saga.

How the NFL and the Montgomery Football Team are Dealing with COVID-19

by Max Osias ’24

Source: MyCentralJersey.com

Published Nov. 11th, 2020

The NFL and The Montgomery Football team have both been dealing with COVID-19, although one has been hit harder than the other. At the beginning of the season, the NFL, the sports league with the most personnel, seemed like it was handling the difficulties of navigating the restrictions enforced by the pandemic flawlessly.

These initial results were a great success for league officials, disproving the idea that an NBA-like bubble would be needed in order to complete the season without a major pause in play. However, after the Tennessee Titans’ win over the Minnesota Vikings, several of the Titans players and staff started receiving positive COVID results, forcing them to quarantine. The Vikings were also panicked and reacted by closing down their facilities.

After several tests, the laboratories confirmed that the team was not infected with the virus. On the other hand, the Titans-Pittsburgh Steelers game had to be postponed to Week 7 in order for the NFL to ensure that there were no positive cases. While the Titans fiasco was eventually resolved, the incident opened the eyes of the public to the challenges of trying to orchestrate an NFL season in the midst of a pandemic.

On the other hand the Montgomery football team has been working relentlessly to deal with the dangers of COVID. The PawPrint talked to Kevin Thomas, one of the starting offensive lineman and captains of the Montgomery Varsity Football team.

When asked what the team does before and after games to prevent the spread of COVID, he replied “We always stay socially distanced whenever possible… we always have our masks on no matter what, when we take off our helmets we have our masks on, unless we have our helmets on then we just play football… we always wash every single pad before we put it away.”. Preparation and the safety of players was also mentioned. “We try to stay quarantined as much as possible”. He reiterated the importance the team places on wearing masks religiously in order to ensure that they can play in the upcoming game.

Kevin reassured that, despite the fact that some of the games were cancelled, the team is thriving during these hard times. Despite the adverse circumstances, MHS has a record of 2-2 and 1-0 in their division, mostly without JJ Malek, their starting quarterback, being sidelined. This injury forced Alex Benitez, their starting running back and kicker, to play QB. COVID-19, unfortunately, will still continue, however, as long as there are opponents to compete against, our beloved teams will also continue to persevere in a safe manner.

How Sports Leagues are Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic

by Prineet Prahar ’23

Source: pulse.seattlechildrens.org

This sports industry has been greatly threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Emsi, 1.3 million jobs were either furloughed, the practice of temporarily laying off workers, or erased. Leagues and organizations were losing hundreds of thousands of dollars per day with no guaranteed future.
Despite all the major North American sports leagues responding differently, they all pushed their season back while the world was still trying to stay safe and assess the severity of the virus. The NBA, WNBA, NHL and NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League) paused their seasons for a few months. The MLB pushed back their spring training period while the NFL canceled their pre-season all together. These drastic moves indicated that it would be a while before play in any major sport would resume.
Basketball was one of the first sports to return. The NBA organized “the bubble” at the Walt Disney World Resort, where the NBA and players would live, practice, and play. The IMG Academy hosted “the wubble”, a similar concept, but for the WNBA. There is very little doubt that these concepts have been successful, as there hasn’t been a reported case of COVID-19 in the bubble since July 13.
Women’s Soccer also adopted a bubble-like concept in Utah. Unlike professional basketball however, the journey to the end wasn’t all smooth sailing. The whole Orlando Pride team dropped out as COVID-19 cases spiked due to media access within the isolated area. When restrictions were implemented, the number of cases trended downward and the league was able to crown the Houston Dash as 2020 Champions.
The NHL did something similar by organizing a “dual-bubble” setup where 24 teams were separated into two different campuses in both Toronto and Edmonton, Canada. This was also widely successful as there were 33,174 tests conducted yielding 0 positive tests.
The NFL, however, decided to go in a different direction. Teams were still going to travel the country together, but with testing being done on each player every single day. This meant that there were little to no formal restrictions on what players could do while not at practice or playing games. This led to 11 Tennessee Titans players testing positive, the first major outbreak in the NFL. This has created several butterfly effects as the Titans had to move their game with the Pittsburgh Steelers to 5 weeks in the future, thus messing up the complicated schedule that NFL schedule makers devised in the offseason.
Finally, the MLB is using a hybrid of the aforementioned options. For the MLB playoffs, the players are organized into a bubble where they play, but for the regular season, they were traveling across the country. This model has led to at least 20 cases of COVID-19 being reported within the Miami Marlins franchise. The league has been able to dial this back with more testing and strict punishments for breaking protocols
COVID-19 has impacted our day-to-day lives, but with the right systems and strictly-adhered-to guidelines, organizations can still keep sports as one constant in all of our lives.

The NBA Returns: the Biggest Surprises and Disappointments of the Bubble

by Ashton Basak ’23

Source: axios.com

Published Oct. 12, 2020

Sports, especially in times of trouble, have been sources of normalcy and a place to turn to escape reality. However, due to the Coronavirus pandemic that swept the nation in early March, the world has been without this distraction for months. It seemed that this would be the case for a while until the National Basketball Association announced in June that they would be continuing the regular season and playoffs starting at the end of July. The top nine teams from the Eastern Conference, along with the top eleven teams from the Western Conference, would travel down to the Disney Resorts in Orlando, where a “bubble” would be created. As the regular season ended shortly after bubble basketball started, the beginning of the playoffs, a competition in which the top eight teams from each conference compete for a championship, started.
One of the most surprising teams to make a deep run in the playoffs in the Orlando bubble was the young Miami Heat. Their team, consisting of many young and budding stars, undrafted players, and second round picks, took the league by surprise after defeating the Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks, and Boston Celtics, all with relative ease. Led by stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, the Miami Heat have now found themselves in the NBA finals against the infamous Lebron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Butler, rookie Tyler Herro, and Adebayo have been playing at an elite level, responsible for much of the Heat’s success.
Another team that has surprised fans across the globe has been the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets this year became the first team in NBA history to ever come back from two 3-1 playoff deficits in the same season. In the first round, the Nuggets, led by superstars Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, defeated the Utah Jazz in seven games after being down three-games-to-one. In the second round, the Nuggets did the same, but against one of the best teams in the league, the Los Angeles Clippers, making it one of the biggest upsets during this year’s playoffs.
On the other side of the spectrum, the Los Angeles Clippers are widely seen as the largest disappointment of the NBA bubble playoffs. The second-seed in the Western Conference advanced to the second round to play the underdog Nuggets team. The Clippers, led by superstar Kawhi Leonard, fresh off a historic season after leading the Toronto Raptors to an NBA title, and Paul George. The Clips secured a three-to-one lead against the Nuggets, in a best-of-seven series. However, the offensive strength of Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic and the rest of the team overpowered the two superstars in the last three games, allowing the Nuggets to win 4-3. This was shocking, as Kawhi Leonard, a player who is arguably the best player in the world, is known to dominate in the playoffs. Additionally, Paul George, who is an all-star and dubbed himself “Playoff P”, was heavily criticized for his poor performances all throughout the series.
Another disappointment comes from the Philadelphia 76ers, who were the sixth seed in the east and got swept in the first round by the third seed Boston Celtics. The duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown were too dominant on offense for the Ben Simmons-less 76ers team to handle. Star center Joel Embiid was forced to take control on both ends of the floor, and without much help from his supporting cast, the Sixers team fell short of their championship aspirations. Many have questioned how a team that is loaded with the talents of Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, Al Horford, and Ben Simmons could not win a single game in the playoffs. This was a major disappointment, as the team was projected to have a deep playoff run. As a result, head coach Brett Brown was released of his head coaching duties, making the future unknown for this team.
Finally, the Los Angeles Lakers, with Lebron James and dominant big man Anthony Davis, cruised by their competition to the playoffs to make it to the NBA Finals where they will face the Miami Heat. LeBron James continued his dominant streak as a playoff performer at the age of 35, only aided by the addition of Davis, a superstar, in the offseason back in July of 2019.
Whether a fan of the sport or not, the NBA was guaranteed entertainment this Summer and Autumn. The league promised and provided games everyday and all day, allowing watchers to escape from the difficulties our world presents. Although bubble basketball may have not seemed normal, it certainly exceeded expectations, and gave NBA fans the closest option to the standard NBA playoffs given the circumstances.

UPDATE: After a decisive 106-93 victory, the Los Angeles Lakers emerge from the Disney bubble victorious! The Lakers defeat the Heat in 6 games to cap off a historic and unforgettable season filled with twists and turns. After averaging 29.8 points, 11.8 rebounds and 8.5 assists, LeBron James was unanimously voted the Finals MVP, making him the first player to receive the award on three different teams. While next season’s start date is still up in the air, it is clear that the Lakers will be among the favorites for next season title, especially with the invaluable skill sets and leadership of 4-time champion LeBron James and dominant big-man Anthony Davis.

The Return of Big Ten Football and the Possible Impacts on Students

By Declan Wahlers ’21

Published October 4, 2020

The fall is a season best known for the return to school, Halloween, and the start of the football season. However, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has made much of this year very challenging and has uprooted many autumnal traditions that many of us hold so close.

During the pandemic, most of us have had to sacrifice a variety of priviledges to help ensure the safety of those around us. We wear masks and don’t gather in large groups; these new rules have become pillars of our lives in this new time. This new lifestyle also forced the temporary pause of many of those fall customs we look forward to every year.

Back in August, the Big Ten came out with a statement postponing all fall sports for the 2020-2021 season due to concerns over the health and safety of students and professors. This came as a disappointment to many college sports fans as the annual collegiate basketball tournament March Madness was canceled in the early stages of the pandemic for the same reasons.

However, the Big Ten Council of Chancellors and Presidents recently voted unanimously to carry on with the college football season. This announcement was met with mixed reactions from the general public as well as people in the sports world. According to the Big Ten website, this decision comes with new safety protocols for coaches and players, including but not limited to: daily screening, mandatory masks, and no fans in the stands during games.

There are also guidelines for what happens if athletes’ COVID tests return positive. If a team has a positivity rate of 5% or more, practice and games will be stopped for seven days until the organization and the NCAA can reassess the situation. Set to start on October 23rd, the season has been modified to include fewer games and teams will only play other teams within the conference to minimize spread and travel.

To many fans this is great news, but some of the students who go to these schools have differing opinions. Nate Eck, a freshmen at Rutgers, is currently taking only virtual classes for his first semester. He feels conflicted about the return of football, stating that “it is unfair and frustrating that [the athletes] get to go back to a campus that the majority of us aren’t allowed on currently. I do however enjoy watching and rooting for my school’s team so I don’t know how I feel.” He fears that getting all personnel and players involved in the team back together on campus might keep him virtual even longer than he originally intended to.

On the other hand, Ethan McLaughlin, a junior at Hillsborough High School, is looking to apply to mainly Big Ten schools, and supports the return of football. He feels like this is a positive step towards normal schooling and is excited to watch his favorite team, Iowa, in October. Student life is a critical factor in the college application process for many, and as a prospective student to Big Ten schools, he likes to see that football will resume as game days are a staple on Saturdays.

Only time will tell how smoothly this football season runs. Hopefully this is the first successful step to having students return to campus and get back to normalcy.

Tennis TOC Champions

Ingredients

  • 120ml (1/2 cup) butter
  • 2 tsp. dried basil, crushed
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp. seasoned salt
  • 220g (8 oz.) fettuccine or angel hair pasta (cooked and drained)
  • 360ml (1 1/2 cups) broccoli floweretts (cooked tender-crisp)
  • 3 Tbsp. walnuts (chopped )
  • fresh, grated Parmesan cheese

Procedure

  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet.
  2. Add the basil, lemon juice, garlic powder and seasoned salt, blending well.
  3. Add the fettuccine, broccoli, walnuts.
  4. Blend well and toss to coat the fettuccine.
  5. After tossing, add fresh grated Parmesan cheese to top off the dish.

This article uses material from the Wikibooks article “Cookbook:Garlic Parmesan Pasta“, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

Guacamole

Ingredients

  • 4 avocados
  • 2 tablespoons of pico de gallo
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 chopped Jalapeño OR 2 tablespoons of crushed red pepper OR 1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of chopped garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 1 minced jalapeño OR 2 minced serrano chiles OR 2 tablespoon minced of any chile pepper like (adjust for spiciness)

Procedure

  1. Pit the avocados.
  2. Score avocado without cutting through the skin.
  3. Scoop out one avocado with a large spoon and place in mixing bowl.
  4. Add the lime juice and stir to evenly coat the avocados.
  5. Stir in the Pico de Gallo, garlic, oil, jalapeño, salt, red pepper, and black pepper, mashing and tossing the avocado pieces until thoroughly mixed.
  6. Then scoop out the other avocados and gently mix and toss in the larger pieces.
  7. The guacamole is the right consistency when more large pieces than mashed parts remain.
  8. Garnish with a sprig of cilantro.

This article uses material from the Wikibooks article “Cookbook:Guacamole“, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

Spiced Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 cup peeled and cubed sweet potato
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 14-oz cans of nonfat and low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable stock
  • 1 15-oz can of pumpkin
  • 1 cup 1% milk
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice

Procedure

  1. Melt butter in a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute onion for 3-4 minutes then add flour, curry, cumin and nutmeg and saute for 1 minute.
  2. Add sweet potato, salt, chicken broth and pumpkin and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered for about 20-25 minutes or until sweet potatoes are cooked through and softened. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes to cool.
  3. Place half of the pumpkin mixture in a blender and process until smooth. Using a strainer, pour soup back into pan. Repeat with rest of soup.
  4. Raise heat to medium then stir in milk and cook for 5 minutes or until soup is heated through.
  5. Remove from heat and add lime juice.

This article uses material from the Wikibooks article “Cookbook:Spiced Pumpkin Soup“, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.