Last month, when Page saw that a winter campaign was in danger – when states across the country started or were starting their own football seasons – he decided to do something. The retreating tigers contacted the headmaster of his school and a local news channel in hopes of gaining momentum and making change.
“I was inspired by all of the protests I saw over the past year that had an outcome and an impact,” said Page. “I thought if I did that I might get my result too.”
His hopes and fears about a season are widespread. All across town, soccer players and parents have voiced their anger and confusion over the shutdown of high school athletics. As Northern Virginia schools move into their second full week of soccer training and several Maryland counties prepare for a fall season, Page and others keep pushing to get back on the field.
“They almost feel like the forgotten,” said Coolidge booster Sherrie Nesbitt. “They feel left out and have the short end of the racket when they are allowed to play right across the river.”
The goal of this effort was to get Mayor Muriel E. Bowser to repeal or change a January 11 order that suspended high school athletics until March 17. This decision, an extension of an order issued in early December, was far from eliminating the possibility of a shortened winter football season. Citing that order, the DC State Athletic Association announced that it would not hold any winter or fall sports championships.
There are at least three petitions circulating online, each with hundreds of signatures, asking for a DC football season. Letters and emails were sent to Bowser and some city council members asking them to reconsider. DC Interscholastic Athletic Association players, parents, and coaches held Zoom meetings to discuss next steps.
The mayor’s office did not respond to a request from the Washington Post to comment on these efforts.
“It feels like everyone is on board,” said Page. “I get 20 texts every day from people all over the world [city] say, “What do we do next?” ”
Page said the lack of games or practice made many players restless. Parents worry about the big and small byproducts of a lost football season.
“The city, as we all know, can be problematic for our youth today,” said Angie Dreher, Dunbar’s parent. “Your thoughts wander. And when there is nothing to do, hiking comes in. … With the football gone, many of their outlets are being taken away. “
Dreher’s son Amonte led the Crimson Tide to a Turkey Bowl victory in 2019. Last fall, he was unable to gather with his team for school-based activities. At one point he helped organize an informal seven-on-seven league to stay sharp. His hope was that a senior season, even a delayed or shortened one, could spark interest in recruiting.
At Friendship Collegiate, a high-performing public charter program in northeast Washington, coach Mike Hunter has tried to help his players cope with the lack of notoriety. Some of them recorded videos of themselves exercising at home.
While DC public schools are unlikely to hold a fall sports season unless current restrictions are lifted, charter schools and private schools could start after March 17 unless the appointment is extended. This scenario poses problems of its own, Hunter said.
“I think a lot of people lack the point that we can’t just play a game the next day,” he said. “It will take us a few weeks to get the children into a safe condition so that they can participate in activities. So we definitely hope [Bowser] highlights this order [March 17]. ”
With four months left in the school year, the time for a solution runs out. Page and his teammates continue to gather for informal, detached workouts, and continue to hope that their efforts on and off the field won’t be in vain.