Fall sports have been practicing at Frankel Jewish Academy since mid-August, while Hillel Day School is only offering intramural sports this fall.
Even though Gov. Whitmer recently approved fall sports for schools across the state, Frankel Jewish Academy and Hillel Day School of Metropolitan Detroit have been working to make the best decisions on how to safely offer fall sports for its students.
Frankel had to temporarily suspend the girls volleyball practices and games after a student on the team tested positive for COVID-19. According to Athletic Director Rick Dorn, the school’s administrative team made the decision on Aug. 28. The suspension was lifted, however, and volleyball practices resumed on Sept. 8.
Dorn says that the Frankel’s other fall sports, which include boys soccer, boys and girls cross country, and boys and girls tennis, have been practicing since mid-August. During the practices, he has emphasized the importance of following safety protocols which include handwashing and mask-wearing before practice, not sharing sports equipment and bringing one’s own water to each practice. He said that most of the students have worked hard to comply to the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s health guidelines.
“The kids have been great,” Dorn said. “I believe that they have been compliant because they really want to play. Most of them understand what we are dealing with, and they are looking out for themselves and their teammates.”
In a letter to parents Sept. 17, FJA’s principal and head of school announced the school’s decision not to compete in “medium” or “high risk” sports, including volleyball and soccer. The school will offer intramural play for those sports, while “low” risk sports such as tennis and cross country will continue practicing and competing.
At Frankel, students must also complete a daily health questionnaire and be approved to begin practice. In addition, students must wear masks during practice if they are not actively participating. Lisa Weinbaum, the mother of volleyball player Anna Weinbaum, commends the coaching staff for taking the appropriate measures to keep everyone safe.
“The coaches have been great this year,” Weinbaum said. “They have shown us that their priority is keeping the girls safe.”
Shayla Mostyn, a junior volleyball team member, said she was devastated when she heard that the team’s season was temporarily postponed. She was relieved that practices began on Sept.8, and she looks forward to playing volleyball games with her teammates and friends
Shayla mother, Lezlie Mostyn, adds that volleyball has helped Shayla, who is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, cope with her condition.
“Volleyball has been Shayla’s life since she started high school,” Mostyn said. She has excelled at it, and it helps with her motor skills.”
Anna Weinbaum said she is also looking forward to reconnecting with her teammates.
“I’ve been playing volleyball at school for four years, and my teammates have become like my family,” she said. “I can’t wait until we start playing our volleyball matches again.”
Lisa Weinbaum adds that volleyball has played a key role in her daughter’s overall development.
“Playing volleyball has affected Anna’s mental health in a positive way. She has learned a lot about teamwork and leadership,” she said.
Hillel Goes Intramural
While coaches and players at Frankel eagerly await competitions with other schools, Hillel Day School is only offering intramural sports this fall considering health and safety concerns, according to Nicole Miller, the school’s athletic director. However, she believes that the students will be able to adjust and have a rewarding season.
“Even though competition with other school teams will be missing this season, we believe that our athletic program will still be able to meet the needs of our student-athletes and instill important life lessons,” she said. “We also want our students to enjoy the company of their teammates this year.”
Carrie Fleishman, whose 11-year-old daughter Elyse plays volleyball at Hillel, agrees with the school’s recent decision.
“I feel safer with our kids playing with those who go their school than with kids from other schools,” she said.
Fleishman is also satisfied with how Hillel and the coaches have been handling safety concerns this year. She said that she is less worried about Elyse because she has taught her safety measures at home.
“Elyse knows how to keep a social distance between others because we practice it whenever we go out,” she said.
“There is always a risk involved in playing sports or even going to school, but I am a confident that she remembers some of things that I have talked to her about when she is away.”