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Portsmouth Patriots are back in the game

Competitive fall sports set to kick off this Saturday

By Kristen Ray
Posted 10/1/20

PORTSMOUTH — Cleats? Check. Racket? Check. Temperature taken, no symptoms presented and mask in possession? Check, check and check. 

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Please support local news coverage –

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Portsmouth Patriots are back in the game

Competitive fall sports set to kick off this Saturday

Posted

PORTSMOUTH — Cleats? Check. Racket? Check. Temperature taken, no symptoms presented and mask in possession? Check, check and check. 

With the first week of practice now under their belts and the new COVID-19 rules and routines feeling commonplace, Portsmouth Patriots high school student athletes are looking ahead to their (modified) fall seasons and playing with their teammates once again. 

It was an opportunity not all of them were thinking they’d have, including senior Jack Bielawa, who plays center back on the boys’ varsity soccer team. 

“There was a lot of time where we didn’t really know what was going on,” he said. 

That officially changed on Sept. 4, when the Rhode Island Interscholastic League (RIIL), in accordance with Gov. Gina Raimondo’s guidance, approved not only soccer, but cross-country, field hockey, girls’ tennis and sideline cheer for the fall, starting on Sept. 21. 

And, as it turned out, the changes were not as drastic as athletes were expecting. 

“I was pleasantly surprised,” said Sabrina Leary, a senior on the girls’ varsity cross-country team. 

Under the new regulations, she and her teammates get to still physically race against other schools, coming as a relief to Sabrina who feared they would instead have to “race by ourselves.” 

And while masks must be worn during warm-ups and team meetings, runners can forgo them during competition. Though keeping masks on was ruled the default standard in soccer, Jack said the Patriots are getting used to it. 

Plus, it’s not like they are the only team having to make the adjustment, added his teammate, senior Sam Stamoulis.   

“Everyone’s playing with a mask; it’s not like anyone’s not playing with a mask,” the striker and center midfielder said. 

The unlucky ones

But while a number of Portsmouth Patriots are getting to enjoy the return of their fall sports, not every athlete proved to be as lucky. 

“I know our volleyball players and our football players are certainly disappointed right now,” said Athletic Director Stephen Trezvant. 

That included Joie Durham, a senior on the girls’ volleyball team. Though saddened by the news, she remains hopeful she and her teammates will get their season in later in the school year — as long as everyone continues practicing these new safety measures. 

In the meantime, Joie said she’s taking the opportunity to focus on cross-country this fall, which she hopes will prepare her for collegiate track and field moving forward. While keeping up with the mileage has certainly been tough, Joie said her new teammates are helping her get through. 

“They kind of made it easier to integrate into a sport I hadn’t done before,” she said. 

Still, it can be hard for the athletes to be together but not “together,” as a result of social distancing. In the past, Sabrina said the team would go on big group “adventure runs” following the day after a meet, but they’ll have to skip those this year. 

Being out on the field and not having the ability to celebrate like they are used to, added Sam, is a challenge for him and his teammates.  

“We’re such a close-knit team that we all want to be together,” Sam said. 

Ready to play

Despite all the new protocols they need to follow in the interests of safety, athletes are adapting and looking ahead to the start of competitions. Cross-country and tennis kicks off this Saturday, soccer on Oct. 10. 

Sabrina has her sights set on making All-State, while Joie says she’ll push herself in a way she never has before. As for senior Wil Rudolph, he plans on having fun and competing well with his teammates on the boys’ soccer team — many of whom have been playing together since they were little kids. 

“It’s not the way you would want your last year to go, especially because you may not have the playoffs,” Wil said. “You try to get as far as you can with what you’re given.”

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