Recently, more than 60 members of the Pingry community, from all three divisions, gathered on Zoom for the school's first-ever HBCU alumni panel. Six Pingry graduates shared their experiences—here's what they had to say.
By Mahek Hemani '21
Squash season has always been my favorite time of year. I've always loved playing squash ever since I was little, but since it is an individual sport, I've never felt the closeness of other group sports. But finally, when I joined the squash team in the Upper School, I was able to experience that closeness with all of my teammates, not only on the girls' team, but on the boys' team as well. Even as a freshman, I felt like I belonged and never felt isolated from the team. Everyone is super supportive of each other and we have always had each other's backs from the start of the season. In my senior year, I imagined our team being #1 in the state again, earning a top-10 standing at Nationals, and getting to know the freshmen and even the other upperclassmen more outside of practice before I head off to college. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has altered this plan.
Although I am very fortunate to even have a season this year, a lot of the things I hoped to accomplish were restricted due to COVID. Although the season is still going on, we had to shorten it by almost two months. And with COVID, we had to completely change the way we play during practice. Traditionally, we are allowed to practice with anyone on any court, allowing us to play with different people throughout the season. But this year due to contact tracing, we are grouped into pods of about four to five and usually only play with those same teammates for the entire season. Although we do change up the pods from time to time, we tend to have the same teammates in each pod just for safety reasons and contact tracing. As a result, we are unable to play the fun, competitive games with the entire team that we used to in a normal season, so it does make bonding with each other a little more difficult.
On top of this, we also only have a few matches this year and no Nationals to end the season with. In a normal year, we would play several schools from New York and New Jersey and play about 10 to 12 matches in total. But this year, we are only going to be able to play about four or five. Nevertheless, the other captains and our coaches are trying our best to make it a good season, despite all of the obstacles. We try to engage everyone by playing fun games within our own pods, and even during matches we all try to be there to cheer for each other even if some of us aren't playing in the match that day.
Overall, my goal this season is to make sure everyone is having fun while still learning and improving their games. I know this season posed many challenges and difficulties, but I am so proud of every person on our team, as they all still come to practice with a smile on their face and try their best every day.
I am forever grateful to have such great team members, coaches, and co-captains. They have all contributed to making the squash team fun and welcoming, and I am so glad I got to be part of it for the past four years. I will truly miss everyone next year but am excited to see how everyone grows their game in the future.
Contact: Andrea Dawson, Senior Writer, email@example.com