Treating every game as if it were their last

The Mayo Girls Soccer 2020 finished their shortened COVID-19 season Thursday, October 15th, 5-3-3. Despite the difficulties that the pandemic presented, the team cherished every moment that they could spend together. Whether it was at a grueling weight training session or a resounding victory, the girls worked their hardest with what they were given for a season. Just being able to work together after being “distanced” safely for so long, meant the world to these girls. 

At the start of the school year, after countless weeks of built-up anticipation, the 2020 Fall sports season for Rochester Public Schools began in the face of the pandemic. The season was shortened, based on the MSHSL’s (Minnesota State High School League) guidelines for all sports that were not canceled this fall, and they ended with a hard-fought, winning record of 5-3-3 (5 wins, 3 losses, 3 ties). 

The 2020 season was both memorable and enjoyable, even with all the worries and regulations put on both players and fans. Captain Lily McBane explained the overwhelming desire to strive to work hard through the fear of each game’s getting canceled. “We talked a lot about how any game or practice could be the last, and I think it made everyone work to not take anything for granted.” She further explained the way the team appreciated the season more because, for most, this would be their last season for Mayo sports.

Both players and fans questioned the length of the season each game as the fear of a COVID-19 case within the boundaries of the team could potentially end the season for the girls. The players quickly learned what they needed to do to keep safe and avoid a premature end.

Without pasta feeds and other yearly traditions, the team developed other ways they could bond. Creating motivation from the fear, the captains talked about their strive to play their hardest each game. Facing the regulations tended to be easier said than done; the captains explained how adjusting to the procedures was easy because of their practices during the summer, Captain’s practices and weight training gave the girls opportunities to become easily familiar with the rules they were facing in the upcoming fall season. “Having summer practices helped everyone get used to following the safety procedures,” Ella Mitchell, one of the captains, explained. Many can conclude team building was most important for these girls, as bonding during the socially distanced practices could be understandably hard. 

Although facing these challenges was hard for the girls, head coach Andre Bailey explained how lucky these girls were, considering other cancelations with Mayo Sports: “At the time Volleyball and Football had been shut down. I don’t know what will happen with winter sports at this point, so we were very lucky to have our season.” He expressed how fortunate the Soccer teams were considering where RPS was at with the rising number of COVID-19 cases. He went on to discuss his fondness for how the team was working together to face these challenges head-on.

Pushing through the fear, the team played an outstanding season and worked their hardest against these competitive teams. Their biggest challenge was facing their undefeated rival: the Century Panthers. Many of the players stated the most memorable moment this season was the outstanding tying shots made by Molly Hendrickson and Kennedy Josephs. Senior Emily Kuehl recalls that “it was so cool to see our team manage to score two goals within the last two minutes and forty-five seconds.” The Mayo Girls Soccer team took the tie as a win and went home with smiles all around.

Although facing COVID-19 head-on was not the hope for these graduating seniors, their team bonding inspires many. The hope for an end to this pandemic is universal, but the students of Mayo High School may defeat the fear of losing a memorable sports season with a little teamwork and motivation.