MANCHESTER — 178 days, Just under half a calendar year. That's how long of a hiatus Vermont high school sports took because of the coronavirus.
On Tuesday, they returned.
Both Burr and Burton boys and girls soccer held tryouts on a warm Tuesday afternoon, with temperatures reaching the low to mid 80's.
With guidelines in place, including athletes needing to wear a face covering, the game definitely looks slightly different. At the end of the day, though, the athletes are just glad to be back playing they game they enjoy.
"They are so happy to be playing," said BBA girls soccer coach Suzanne Mears.
Mears has built a successful program at BBA, coaching her team to a 51-14-1 over the past four seasons, including a Division I state championship in 2016.
Mears believes the key to success for this unprecedented 2020 season is focusing on what they can control.
"We could all sit here and we could talk about all the things that we can't do," Mears said. "Or all the things that we have to do within the restrictions. If we focus on the things that we can do, and what's in our control, we'll be successful."
Patrick Zilkha steps into a new role as coach of BBA boys soccer. Being a new coach always has its challenges. This year those challenges are multiplied.
Zilkha first goal as coach is to create a culture within his program.
"I want the juniors and seniors to make this their team," Zilkha said. "I'm going to support them and help them along the way. I want these guys to be their own little coaches on the field."
The first year coach stressed conditioning. Players were split into groups and completed different circuits, including a two mile run, planks, and push ups.
"If we can get on a field prepared and in shape and ready to compete at our best," Zilkha said. "Mentally prepared, physically prepared, that's all I can ask for.
Zilkha said he was nervous about the season being canceled.
"After being indoors for five months, I think it's super important for these kids, for mental health, just to get back out and hang out with their friends," Zilkha said.
Both the boys and the girls team saw a strong turnout. There were approximately 70 girls trying out for the girls teams, while the boys had around 40 players.
Coaches were reminding players to socially distance whenever possible. Some drills were modified to incorporate more spacing and players were split into smaller groups to ensure safety. Athletes kept their masks on during the warm September afternoon.
This is the new normal in the sports world.