South Coast athletes protest postponed season
Athletes and parents from Old Rochester, Dighton-Rehoboth and Somerset-Berkeley High Schools gathered at Wareham Crossing on Sept. 20 to protest the cancellation of fall sports by the South Coast Conference.
The group, which fluctuated between 14-18 protestors, was met with honking horns and thumbs up from the cars of shoppers.
The protest lasted around two hours, with student athletes holding signs and flags in support of their cause.
But for Rachel Fantoni, captain of the OR girl’s soccer team, the small protest wasn’t what she hoped for.
“I expected more out of my teammates,” she said of OR’s presence at the protest. There were only around five OR athletes in attendance, many of which arrived nearly an hour into the demonstration.
Fantoni said that compared to a petition put together by South Coast athletes which has amassed nearly 2,000 signatures, the size of the protest was lacking.
Fantoni said she was there to “show the SCC and the community how important sports are,” as well as save her last season before heading off to play for Franklin Pierce University next year.
She said “it would mean a lot” to get her senior season back “because it’s something you look back to.”
And even though Fantoni knows that any season the South Coast might get won’t be the same as it was any previous year, she said she thought it was important for students, especially freshmen, to gain that early sense of structure.
“It can’t be 100 percent normal,” Fantoni said of a reinstated season. “But a sense of normalcy would certainly help.”
For Lindsy Durgin, an OR senior and midfielder on the field hockey team, losing the fall season means losing an important capstone, and missing out on the team atmosphere.
“It’s kind of hard not having a season and not having those people to connect with,” she said.
Durgin said that even though she only has one season under her belt, missing out on the season means she doesn’t get the chance to become more serious about field hockey.
But both OR athletes have taken it upon themselves to stay in shape while they wait and see whether they’ll get their seasons back.
Durgin said she’s started doing crossfit and Fantoni said she and the rest of the soccer team have joined a fall league in Fairhaven, where they’ll play six games.
“At least it’s something to do,” said Fantoni.
A few parents came out for the demonstration too, including Lisa Matarese of Somerset-Berkely, who coordinated the protest.
For Matarese, the demonstration was about getting kids out of the house and saving the season for the South Coast’s seniors.
“Kids need to be out from behind their computer,” she said.
And though safety is a clear concern for the reinstatement of a fall sports season, Matarese noted that there are concerns outside physical health to which those in charge should pay attention.
“Education and mental health should be our first concern,” she said, arguing that sports are good for teenagers’ mental wellbeing.