File photo from 2018 WCAC Championship game at Catholic University (via Zach Hill)

LEONARDTOWN, Md. — While some private schools across Maryland have been exploring reopening plans that would potentially bring students back into classrooms at some capacity, contrasting current plans for public education, athletic programs at many of these private schools have met a fate similar to those of public schools.

St. Mary’s Ryken High School(SMR), a private high school in Leonardtown, Maryland, had already been adapting their athletic activities over the summer months to cope with restrictions that COVID-19 put in place. Then, news hit that would sink the hearts of many of their steadily-preparing athletes.

On July 28, the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference(WCAC) who fields 13 schools across Maryland, D.C., and Virginia, including SMR, announced that they would be canceling all fall sports and would reevaluate public health conditions and scheduling options by Jan. 1, 2021.

“We’re all being forced to adapt,” SMR’s Athletic Director Jon Lombardo told “The first priority now is the health and safety of all of our communities in the league, but the cancellation of any sports is obviously the last alternative.”

And as the current climate changes, so do SMR’s plans for the newly postponed season. On Aug. 6, SMR put out a statement to their community that one of the “acclimating athletes” that was on-campus had recently tested positive for COVID-19.

SMR had previously been hosting workouts on-campus that follow safety guidelines provided by the St. Mary’s County Health Department. Read the full statement below:

Another concern Lombardo elaborated on was how athletes, many of whom attend St. Mary’s Ryken or other WCAC schools in hopes of getting the chance to excel on the collegiate level, are trying to handle the unknowns that come along with recruitment. Lombardo, a former lacrosse coach at the University of Lynchburg, explained that many colleges are feeling some pressure in finding the next recruiting classes, but says that those destined for the next level will still be found.

“A lot of people decide to attend one of these schools based on athletics being a huge part of their experience,” Lombardo said. “It’s ever-changing for college coaches and evaluators right now as well… but that’s what they do for a living so you know that they’re professionals.”

“If you’re a lacrosse player that’s ‘supposed’ to play lacrosse at Duke University, Duke University is still gonna find you. That’s what they do,” Lombardo explained. “I’m trying to provide some stability to the world of recruiting. To kind of coach our coaches, and coach our athletes on how to shrink the degrees of separation between them and a prospective college or university.”

Following the WCAC’s announcement, on Aug. 3 the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) similarly announced that all their competitions will be postponed until the start of the second school semester, beginning in Jan. 2021.

As the change of season rapidly approaches, the chance of seeing anyone play under the lights this fall unfortunately gets smaller and smaller.

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