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Shorter preseason challenges teams, relieves others

This year’s preseason will be cut down to a single day, which some students said created setbacks for varsity teams while others said changed Deerfield’s focus away from sports.

With the new opening days schedule, athletic scheduling is more cramped than in recent years. Preseason, an opportunity for student athletes to tryout for varsity teams, was two days long in 2011.

“We feel we’ve found a better balance and orientation schedule for Deerfield students, new and old,” Head of Athletics Chip Davis said. “Athletics are less distinct. We’ve added class time, residential time and academic orientation time while thinning the athletic blocks. On a relative basis, I think there has been realignment.”

But Varsity water polo captain Sloan Damon ’13 said, “Preseason gives our teams more time to learn to play together, as often the first game of the season is soon after school starts.”

The training period also gives teams an edge: time to become competitive against other schools.

“I think the short preseason could hurt our team’s performances, especially early in the season,” said Conner Romeyn ’13, who plays varsity soccer.

Tri-varsity athlete and captain Mettler Growney ’13 added, “I don’t think this [year’s preseason] is enough time for a team to become acclimated and comfortable playing with each other.”

Shorter preseason means the varsity football team no longer meets the minimum number of practices required by NEPSAC for safety and equity, according to Mr. Davis.

He said the team will have an optional off-campus camp before school starts, something other teams like boys’ soccer, volleyball and water polo have done in the past.

While varsity teams are accommodating the new schedule, some students said preseason was a source of anxiety for non-varsity athletes and supported its de-emphasis.

“Preseason creates a subtle superiority vibe among those who attend because it’s exclusive,” Sarah Sutphin ’13 said. “It’s a reminder that varsity athletes receive special treatment.”

“This new emphasis on hall cohesion and class bonding within the new opening days’ schedule will make for a smoother reception of new kids into the Deerfield fold,” said Proctor Betsy Alexandre ’13. “If this sacrifices a few athletic practices for the small number of athletes, so be it.”

Mr. Davis said, “I don’t believe the opening days’ schedule was designed with any principles of exclusivity. There is a logic and a cadence as to why we build our school population on campus over a three-to-four day rollout.”

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