CRLS Football: Pandemic Experience

Pictured%3A+the+Falcons+at+the+blackout+game+last+fall.

Willa Rudel

Pictured: the Falcons at the blackout game last fall.

Evan Fay, Sports Media Editor

Since the start of the 2020-2021 school year, it has been unclear whether or not the CRLS football team would have a season. Despite the postponement of many Massachusetts high school football seasons this past fall, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) recently gave Cambridge and other teams around the state the green light to play during the Fall II Season beginning on February 22nd. The CRLS football season is now in full swing, with a new, league-only schedule, as well as safety protocols adjusted for the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. Protocols include weekly COVID-19 testing and daily health check-ins to ensure the safety of the whole team. With a staggering 24 seniors on the team, the Falcons are heading into the new season with high expectations, looking to rebound from their disappointing 3-8 record last year. 

The pandemic has produced a number of unprecedented challenges for the team, including canceled practices, limited workouts, and a hindered recruiting process for those trying to receive scholarships from colleges. 

“It changed my whole way of life in ways I do not like,” said Kamaal Waterman, a senior linebacker for the Falcons. In football, practicing and staying in shape is essential, especially to prevent concussions and other contact sport-related injuries. As such, the pandemic has forced athletes to overcome a significant amount of adversity.

Felix Diaz ’21, a starting safety for the Falcons, reflected on the challenges posed by the pandemic and the ways in which he kept himself mentally prepared for the season: “For me, it’s been staying confident and going into the season with a growth mindset.” 

Captain Nick Oliveras-Chase ’21 explained that the pandemic has had a profound impact on him personally, specifically in its interference with the college recruiting process. The pandemic hit in the spring of Oliveras-Chase’s junior year, which is typically the prime time for recruiting. Oliveras-Chase said, “I really didn’t get to have the full recruiting experience … I  signed up for a bunch of camps to try and get exposure because I thought I could’ve played on the Division I level, and I wasn’t able to participate in those.”

The pandemic has produced a number of unprecedented challenges for the team.”

 Luckily, Oliveras-Chase was still able to receive an offer to play football at Franklin Pierce University, a Division II school to which he is now committed. 

Despite the vast amount of obstacles created by the pandemic, the athletes have persevered and continued to stay in shape both physically and mentally in preparation for the unconventional new season. “To a certain extent [the pandemic] is upsetting, but at the end of the day, there’s no real point in having regrets. You just gotta take what you got and work with it,” said Oliveras-Chase when reflecting on the pandemic. 

Coming into the season with high expectations, the seniors are looking to finish their CRLS football careers with a bang. Senior offensive lineman, Mustafa Elgazouli, elaborated on his goals for his final season, saying, “I want to be the best player I can and the best leader I can [be]. … I want to lead by example.” 

The high number of seniors on the team will hopefully give the Falcons the boost of experience and leadership they need to succeed. Waterman reflected on his final season saying, “My goals heading into the season [are] to win every game, have fun in my last year, and make a lot of memories with the kids I started playing freshman year with. … We’ve created that bond and that brotherhood with each other.” 

The Falcons are currently scheduled to play four regular season games with two postseason games depending on how well they perform. All of the football games will be broadcasted on Cambridge Community Television (CCTV) or Youtube Live. Make sure to tune in!