The Medford-Malden girls hockey season began on December 14th with tryouts. Each athlete was asked to wear a mask and come with all necessary paperwork and equipment to keep things running smoothly in the face of a Pandemic. The first game of the season took place on January 16, 2021 and was a home game at Loconte Rink in Medford.
In a sport where physical contact is already limited, the game has not changed much in a pandemic. The only changes have been the fact that they need to wear masks while playing and only five players plus the coach are allowed on the bench. Players are also not allowed to use dressing rooms or lockers and have to come to the game already dressed or get dressed in the parking lot. Teams are only allowed 15 minutes of practice before the games now instead of one to two hours.
With the uncertainty of the season in the beginning, Coach Rayanne Forbes made sure to reach out to the girls when the season would have started to prepare them, in case they went back. Malden High Senior captain Sarah Whitehouse, believes this helped because “when [they] began practice [they] already knew the rules.” They knew to get dressed before entering the rink and they knew to sign in and keep a mask on the entire time.
For Whitehouse, the virus had made her a little hesitant to return to the game. She was “very cautious and made sure to stay away from all of [her] teammates.” As the season went on, Whitehouse became more and more comfortable. Medford High is a hybrid model for learning this year and every student needs to be tested weekly. “Knowing that two-third of [her] team has to get a weekly test makes [her] more comfortable” said Whitehouse. The coach also stressed that if they are not feeling well in any way they will not be penalized if they did not show up to practice and or games.
Past seasons, though none like the present, have prepared the girls in many ways. Whitehouse mentioned that “[she has] seen everything.” She knew what it would take to earn the trust of her teammates and how to bring them together. The past seasons have “turned [her] into the player [she is] today.” Forbes also mentioned that the level they play at has not changed and that “the newer players adjusted and pushed everyone to be better as well.”
For Rayanne Forbes, a Medford High Senior as well as co-captain for the Mustangs, “playing a whole season without being shut down [was] crazy.” Forbes had hoped they would get to play this season in order for her to “get a bit of closure” and to play her last games with the other seniors. Forbes stated that “[she] had some concerns of contracting [the coronavirus] and spreading it to others,” but for her “it was a no brainer” to finish out her high school career no matter the situation. Forbes was willing to jump at any opportunity “to play in a Medford jersey one more time.”
Team bonding is something that has always been important when playing in a sport. Forbes stated that she “was looking forward to just playing hockey and having some sort of team socializing” while still practicing social distancing. She added that “each member of the team worked hard and put in much effort not only to get better as players but to make the most of a crazy year.”
As a captain, Whitehouse was more concerned with “whether or not the girls [were] working hard and enjoying what they were doing.” With that being said she also mentioned that mentally she had hoped “[they would] come out with a better record than last year.” Whitehouse’s hope was fulfilled, as they came out of this season with more wins and a better win percentage than they had last year.
Whitehouse was excited to see more Malden girls playing on the team this year. This year there were three Malden eighth graders who joined the team with two seniors and one junior returning player. Whitehouse stated that this gave her “hope that Malden girls will always be intertwined with the Medford team.”
Although this season in many ways was unlike any other, not much had to be changed in order for the girls to have their season. The season ended with a record of 6-7-1. This means they won six games, lost seven, and ended one game in a draw or tie. Although there will be no states this year, Whitehouse hopes “[they] can all reflect on the season and have no regrets.”