High Schools Return to the Ice

Hockey teams begin practice in hopes of somewhat normal season
Published: Jan. 7, 2021 at 8:50 AM EST
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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - It’s the new normal at Cairns Arena in South Burlington this Winter.

“Every single time, you have to get your temperature checked and that takes time,” said Grace Ferguson, a sophomore goaltender on the CVU-MMU Cougarhawks girls hockey team. “And you have to wait outside.”

“Everything from getting dressed to the way we play, body contact’s limited,” added Shane Burke, a junior defenseman for the South Burlington boys. “We can’t even see half our teammates because they don’t go to school with us. So definitely very different.”

The SBHS boys hockey team is getting its first ice time of the season this week as the school decided to wait until after the Holiday break to allow its students to begin practice.

“I haven’t been able to like get out and skate so it’s gonna be tough,” senior goalie Logan Riddle said. “But I think getting out here now is better than nothing.”

“In terms of sacrifices, we couldn’t travel over the holiday season, we couldn’t be with our friends,” Burke said. “This team we have here is really a family because we’re so close knit. And it’s been tough for sure but at least we’re skating right now.”

In contrast, the Cougarhawks took full advantage of the Governor’s announcement and have been skating since right after Christmas.

“I was so excited,” said Sabina Brochu, a CVU junior forward. “Being able to able to come out and just skate on the ice is amazing because with the weather not allowing outdoor rinks really to work, it was hard to get in shape for hockey. The only thing that gets you in shape for hockey is playing hockey.”

“I needed to be exercising but I just wasn’t because I wasn’t with my team,” Ferguson said. “But now that hockey is actually started, my mental health has greatly improved.”

As previously mentioned, it’s definitely not the same on the ice: players have to focus on individual skill work, there’s no contact allowed, and of course, masks are required at all times.

“Before the first lockdown, I was actually playing hockey with the mask,” Riddle said. “It definitely was hard at first but it definitely got better.”

“Everyone on the team has been great about wearing it,” Brochu added. “And our coaches made it a priority that masks are always on and above your nose.”

Of course the end goal is to get to a point where they can face other teams.

“Some competition would be great if we can maybe squeeze in a few games,” Burke said.

But until that’s possible they’re happy to be out there. And the kids have a message for the rest of us.

“Thank you to every Vermonter out there who has been following state guidelines so that we’re able to take these small steps towards going back to normalcy,” Brochu said. “It means so much more than you even know to all of us because this is our lives and it’s amazing. Thank you.”

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