H1N1 Hits Andover Athletics

Swine Flu first penetrated Phillips Academy on September 16, when Isham Health Center diagnosed the first student case. The virus has now hit Andover athletics, seizing key players from various teams. This past weekend, NMH canceled all of its Saturday athletic competitions with Andover due to a severe outbreak on the NMH campus. The cancellation evoked widespread disappointment among Andover students, faculty, parents and alumni on Parents’ Weekend. “I come to Parents’ Weekend every year to see my son and watch him play,” said an Andover parent. “With this being his Senior year, I was so disheartened to miss out on my last opportunity to watch him play.” Boys Soccer Co-Captain Garnet Hathaway ’10 said, “Unfortunately, with the cancellation, we will most likely not make up a great Class A game, which I feel we could have won.” He added, “So although the team has not been directly affected by the swine flu, we did miss out on a game that we feel could have improved our record.” This Saturday was not the first time swine flu encroached on Andover athletics. The virus has afflicted teams’ performances all season, snatching vital players, altering lineups and posing disadvantages against Andover’s competition. Swine flu is widespread in across New England schools and is disrupting many sports. Football Head Coach Leaon Modeste said, “Earlier this year, Tufts University canceled its JV game with us, because it had to use its JV kids to fill the void on varsity from the illness.” Now, with NMH canceling, the football team has missed two games this season due to swine flu. “In football, there are only eight games, so losing two is a big part of the schedule,” Coach Modeste said. Never before has sickness disrupted Andover football as much as it has this year. Modeste said, “[This is] the first time in all of my years of coaching that another prep school has cancelled a game [with Andover football] due to illness.” Coping with the outbreak, certain teams have discovered new key players and rotated players’ positions. Andover’s field hockey team, for example, temporarily lost two vital players due to swine flu. “Andover players were asked to adopt new positions, but everyone who played a new position did extremely well,” said Shannon McSweeney ’11. She continued, “We displayed a lot of poise, confidence, and intelligence on the field.” Despite the absence of two teammates, the team secured a 2-1 win against Milton. This victory, said McSweeney, generated a lot of enthusiasm, reassurance and motivation within the team. Water Polo captain Curtis Hon ’10 said, “[Saturday’s cancellation] allowed [the team] to recuperate and enter the final few weeks of [its] season with full force.” Although swine flu has not hit the Water Polo team, Coach David Fox urges his players to stay healthy, get adequate sleep every night, eat well and prioritize their work to prevent catching the virus. Teams are doing their best to maintain players’ health for the remainder of the fall season. Isham, coaches and the administration are continually working to ease the disturbances of the virus on academics, athletics and everyday life. As for now, the effects that the virus will have on winter sports remains unclear.