COVID-19 affects cross country team


Staples cross country runners wear masks and socially distance while running in their small cohorts at practice.

Going back to school in fall of 2020 is anything besides ordinary: one-way hallways, masks, six feet apart and Zooms. Sports are no exception, especially for the cross country team. 


The Staples cross country team has had to make many modifications this year due to COVID-19.  


According to the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC), cross country has had to practice in cohorts no larger than 10 athletes. This year the cross country athletes were assigned cohorts based on skill level to remain in for the entirety of the season.


Not only has this impacted the inclusivity and socialness of the sport, but it has impacted the runners themselves. Tyler Kocadag 23, a member of the Staples boys’ cross country team, can agree that running with a smaller group has negatively impacted his running performance.


“I think [smaller running cohorts] definitely affects our running performance because when you run with more people, it’s less stressful and you want to impress the people in your group and keep up with them,” Kocadag said. 


The postseason tournaments like FCIAC and State championships are also part of the sport that students look forward to, but there is a strong possibility regional tournaments could be canceled. Laddie Lawrence, head of the Staples boys’ cross country team, finds the possible cancelations understandable, despite how it might cause sorrow for the athletes.


“I think [the cross country athletes are] disappointed […]. I think it’s more important that we stay healthy and safe than it is that we have a state championship,” Lawrence said.

Because of the uncertainty of the sport’s near future, cross country senior captains like Eva Fitch ’21 have redefined their role in order to make the season as normal as possible.


“Captains have taken on a bigger role and try to encourage every single girl on the team to work hard despite the conditions […],” Fitch said. “We try to emulate what cross country is known for: inclusivity [and] fun times.”