RE hopes for a successful, and safe, varsity basketball season

Richard Hanft '21

Complications in the fall sports season, such as the football team’s late start in competition and multiple swimmers testing positive for COVID-19, have left the RE community wondering what will happen with winter sports. With the varsity basketball season beginning, many students are worried particularly about basketball, due to the high intensity of play and the close contact between opponents making it quite complicated to pull off during a global pandemic.  

According to the Boys’ Varsity Basketball Head Coach Scott Berman, it was not certain at first that the boys’ varsity basketball team would compete this winter. It was assumed at first that “student-athletes would play without masks because of safety concerns since it is such a high cardio sport, and we have to protect our kids in all ways. 

Now, however, RE has further prioritized COVID-19 precautions, mandating that all RE basketball practice while wearing masks at all times (other than water-breaks) and while constantly attempting to maintain social distancing, according to Chloe Wiesenfeld ‘21. 

On all RE basketball teams, precautions during practices include distanced drills and water breaks, use of masks during play, and fewer players per basket. Coach Berman mentioned that although the team will try to maintain social distancing as much as possible, in order to compete and have a more successful season, the team is going to have to play scrimmages and smaller games that involve close contact.  

Students, coaches, and fans are excited for the upcoming season, but they also understand that they must be safe and that the health of the RE community comes first. “The safety of our students is obviously the most important,” Coach Berman said. “I know our kids want to play, and obviously we want to get out there, but we have to do what’s right for the health and safety of our kids.” 

Pablo Joseph ‘21 expressed his concerns about continuing to compete if the number of COVID-19 cases rises once more. “If the situation gets worse, then I would not like to, as schools would probably close down as well as businessesbut as of now we have taken the necessary precautions in our preseason activities,” Joseph said.  

Joseph expressed concern that in competition, masks could take too large of a toll on the players bodies and might cause them to be extremely tired early in games. “There should be a limited number of spectators with masks, but for players, they should not be required to wear masks,” he said. He acknowledged, however, that the new rule represents what is safest for student-athletes. 

“Ransom has taken much consideration into making sure players are staying safe, and I am very appreciative of that,” Wiesenfeld said. 

Other aspects of winter sports that will see major changes due to COVID-19 are transportation and fans.  

Before fall sports, the bus situation was complicated because more buses are being used this year in order to maintain distance. For a time, a bus shortage seemed probable. RE now has access to buses, however, and teams have taken safety precautions while on them as well. According to Coach Berman, teams are only taking up 50% of any one bus’s capacity, while maintaining social distancing and wearing masks to keep student-athletes safe. 

As for spectators, a decision has not been made yet. “Our kids will definitely want their parents in the stands,” Berman said. “And if it is safe enough and we feel comfortable with where the numbers are, then we will have families in the stands. In terms of having kids then opening the gym up, that seems highly unlikely.” 

Joseph and Wiesenfeld both look forward to the RE season and hope to compete. “I have been playing basketball every day at home, sometimes at Ransom, and at the park to make sure when our first practice comes, I am ready to go,” Joseph said. “I have been improving on my game as a whole and can’t wait to have a good season.”  

“As a senior, I am beyond excited that I am able to play in any way that we can,” Wiesenfeld said. 

Both varsity basketball teams have scheduled their first games to start the season. The boys are set to play on November 23 and the girls on November 30