First Person: Windsor senior duo ready to play, still waiting

  • Windsor girls basketball players Adi Prior, left, and Evelyn Page, right, stand for a portrait during practice with the team in Windsor, Vt., Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Evelyn Page, left, listens to instruction during Windsor girls basketball practice in Windsor, Vt., Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Adi Prior works through a ball handling drill during Windsor girls basketball practice with the team in Windsor, Vt., Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Kabray Rockwood leads a girls basketball practice at Windsor High School in Windsor, Vt., Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. Rockwood is stepping in to coach the team this season upon the departure of longtime head coach Bruce Mackay. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Adi Prior

  • Evelyn Page

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 1/16/2021 9:49:05 PM
Modified: 1/19/2021 9:44:54 PM

WINDSOR — Vermont winter high school sports aren’t on pause anymore, but the road back to playing indoors still seems a ways away.

Student-athletes have gone through ups and downs this season because of the coronavirus pandemic. Basketball players had to wait nearly a month to get onto the court, and when they did, it was with no-contact practices.

On Friday, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott announced teams could expand practices to include drills with limited contact and scrimmages. Ski and snowboard teams can hold competitions, with only 25 per group.

The Valley News spoke with Windsor High girls basketball players Adi Prior and Evelyn Page last week to hear from the athletes themselves. The two also played girls soccer this fall.

The seniors discussed what it has been like to go through the unknown and continue to practice with no start date competition set. They also learned on the first day of practice that their longtime coach, Bruce Mackay, was stepping down due to health concerns revolving around COVID-19.

Valley News: What is it like being a senior in high school during all this?

Adi Prior: I think the biggest part for me is just missing out on what seniors can typically do. Towards the end of the year, I don’t know if we will be able to do it, but we have a senior skip day. The fun stuff seniors did as a class before graduation, I don’t know if that will happen.

Evelyn Page: I think part of it is the social aspect. A lot of our grade goes to Hartford (for tech school) in the morning, and then we’re remote in the afternoon. We’re not seeing half of our grade the entire year unless you play sports or are friends with them outside of school. That’s the part that I miss.

VN: So the fall sports season, strictly from a COVID-19 standpoint, it seemed like everything went well. Were you hopeful that there might be some normalcy again the world of high school sports?

Page: Things were going well at that point for COVID in Vermont; it felt like we had it pretty in control. It did give me some hope that we would have basketball, or things might go back to normal. Obviously, we knew things from a COVID standpoint were going to rise in the winter, and indoors was going to be a lot different.

Prior: It felt really normal. The only difference we had was it was a shorter season and we had to wear masks. But it did give me some hope for the basketball seasons because I thought it might be the same with certain restrictions.

VN: So let’s talk basketball. There’s still no start date to the season; you had to wait over a month just to start practice, but it’s not even a regular practice. What has it been like to go through this?

Page: It was definitely hard going from, we were anticipating the season to practices put on pause, and now even when we do have practices it is skills and drills, not even real practice. It’s hard to continue to stay motivated even if we don’t know if we’re going to have games. We just have to assume that at some point they’re going to tell us we can.

VN: The wait, how hard was it?

Prior: I was hoping to get on (the court) sooner, and then when we had to sit and wait. It kind of made me think, “Do I really want to do this?” But it’s like my last year, so I want to do it. But is it going to be worth it?

VN: Was there ever a point where it felt like it was never going happen?

Prior: Towards about a month in, it felt like they were never going to happen to me.

VN: Do you think Vermont should let you play? Do you think they will let you play?

Page: I think that they should let us play. I think that athletics and winter sports are a huge part of going to school and having that experience. And they’re really helpful in the mental health aspect. I just feel like they should let us play; I don’t know if they will.

VN: Do you feel safe playing basketball? That’s something that really isn’t being talked about.

Prior: A lot of us always keep our mask on and if we need to go take a breath, we’ll go open the door so there is some more ventilation in the room. If we take our mask off, we socially distance. So yeah, I feel safe.

VN: Your coach had to step down, Bruce (Mackay). How did you find out about that?

Page: It was actually kind of funny because we didn’t know Bruce was stepping down. So we walk into practice, and we all got there pretty early; usually Bruce is there really early as well. We didn’t see Bruce when we were walking in, so we were like, “OK, where’s Bruce?” So Jim Taft, our athletic director, walked in and said Kabray (Rockwood) was our new head coach.

It was sad; we obviously weren’t able to see Bruce after the season ended abruptly last year.

VN: You obviously understand why he had to step down, because of COVID-19. Does that make it much more real? He didn’t exactly retire out of choice.

Prior: When we had our start push backed, I was thinking about that and how he would handle it. I had an idea he might step down because of it, but I was staying positive because he always seemed to push through everything that comes his way.

VN: You two are seniors, which adds a whole different layer to it all. You weren’t able to finish the postseason last year because of the early days of the pandemic. Is there pressure to play this season?

Prior: Definitely for me. I definitely want a championship and get back to Barre and at least play games. But I can’t really control that.

Page: I think we’re really grateful and anxious to get back to actually playing. And last year adds a lot of pressure to it, and the pride Windsor takes in basketball.

VN: Do you think your voices are being heard? It is your winter sports season; do you feel like people care about your opinion in all this?

Page: It’s hard to voice our opinions because there is so much stuff going on in the world. To me, it feels selfish to say, “We want to play winter sports.” But so many lives are being affected by not playing. So in that way I don’t think our voices are being heard, and I feel like winter sports are on the back end of people’s minds, at least in Vermont. That’s frustrating. There is a lot going on, but winter sports help you take a step back and enjoy high school.

Pete Nakos can be reached at pnakos@vnews.com.




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