After tracing over 100 new Massachusetts Covid-19 cases to ice hockey, the Department of Health decided to close all Massachusetts rinks for two weeks. Accordingly, the Andover Boys and Girls Hockey programs have ceased their on-ice practices and are continuing to train outside and in the fitness center.
Jack Pearlson ’23 and Tyler Parker ’23, two members of Andover Boys Hockey, both believe that despite the rise of hockey-related Covid-19 cases in the broader Massachusetts area, Andover hockey has been vigilant about mask-wearing and social-distancing.
Pearlson said, “The [Andover] community has been doing a terrific job, locker rooms have been de-densified, we aren’t allowed to take our masks off, even on the ice. I can’t say much about the outside community just because I haven’t seen anything, but I know that people at the rink are required to wear masks [and that] the Andover community has done a great job.”
“We have to wear masks out on [the] ice and in locker rooms, you need to be three cubby spaces away from someone, so we’re social distancing as much as possible in the locker room and on the ice,” added Parker.
Due to the limited number of people who use the Andover ice hockey rinks and the minimal percentage of hockey players and coaches infected with Covid-19 at Andover, many players were unhappy with the decision to close all rinks in Massachusetts. According to Parker and Olivia McManus ’23, more lenient solutions could have been employed rather than pausing on-ice practice for two weeks.
“Shutting down big, public rinks where large amounts of people go to every day would be a good idea, but shutting down the [Andover] rinks, I don’t agree with because the only people using it are the students. If [the Department of Health] could just shut [the Andover rinks] off to the public but keep [them] open to the students, that would make more sense,” said Parker.
McManus added, “In terms of shutting down rinks, I don’t think it’s appropriate because [only about] 0.001% of people involved with hockey [have contracted Covid-19], so I don’t think that decision is right.”
To compensate for the teams’ inability to practice on rinks, the Boys and Girls Hockey coaches have been utilizing various other methods, such as the outdoor track and fitness center equipment, to keep their players fit and engaged with the sport, according to Girls Hockey Co-Captains Molly MacQueen ’21 and Bridget Santos ’21.
MacQueen said, “We are currently doing a mixture of conditioning, agility, shooting, lifting, and street hockey. We are very lucky to have the shooting room—it has two shooting platforms and a stick handling station and gives us feedback regarding our accuracy, reaction time, and speed.”
“Everyone has been super optimistic and encouraging in working with what we have. I think it has been beneficial that there are so many of us on campus to keep us engaged and accountable,” Santos continued.