When the fall sports season kicked off in September, the competition schedule looked a little different than normal. Rather than home and away games against Blue Ridge Conference (BRC) rivals, the field hockey, tennis, cross country, and volleyball schedules were all home games, and all against fellow Turtles.
“We gave a lot of thought to this all summer and kept an open mind,” said Director of Athletics Laura Clay of the fall sports season in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic. “We never abandoned the idea of interscholastic competition until it became apparent that the guidelines we were going to set at Chatham Hall for the safety of the students and the safety of the community just wouldn’t allow for us to be able to do that.”
Chatham Hall became the first BRC member to lean into a robust intramural schedule. Others soon followed.
“We committed to keeping the same standards that we would if we were playing interscholastic games,” said Clay. “We asked our coaches to train our teams with the same intensity and prepare as if we were competing with other schools. We wanted to develop skills so that each individual athlete wouldn’t lose anything this season in terms of speed, strength, or understanding.”
The Athletics Department put in place a variety of precautions for student-athletes, including temperature checks before practices, daily uniform cleanings, daily equipment sanitizing, personal water bottles, and more. A new competition schedule was established that averaged out to one game/meet/match per week. Training days involved team workouts, as well as supplemental discussions on health and wellness topics like hydration and nutrition. In October, University of Louisville Director of Sports Nutrition Melissa Crowson spoke to our students via Zoom.
Weekly competitions looked no different than in the past, with officials, lined fields, timekeepers and even cheering crowds of friends – masked and socially distanced – on the sidelines. An added benefit was the reduction of travel time to away games, which has allowed a uniform schedule of afternoon and evening activities across the student body.
“It’s turned out to be a fulfilling alternative,” said Clay. “If there is any piece that the students miss, I think it is getting off campus and having that time with their teammates, competing with other schools and grabbing a meal on the road. But all-in-all I think this is working out well, especially during a pandemic. I can’t image this being a program that we or any school would implement regularly, but for now it is a safe and reasonable alternative.”
To see pictures of all of our fall teams, visit the School's SmugMug account.
An all girls boarding and day school in Southern Virginia, Chatham Hall prepares girls for college and for productive lives. Our innovative academic program offers Advanced Placement courses, global study and travel, as well as project based learning. Our athletic teams regularly compete at the State level and our exceptional riding program is nationally recognized. We foster the intellect and character of each student and, through our Honor Code, live in a community of trust. Grounded in its Episcopal heritage, the school welcomes students of all faiths and backgrounds.