Basketball cancellation affects the WA Girl’s Basketball team


Provided by WAGB Instagram

The recent cancellation of basketball by the Westford school committee leaves the WAGB team heartbroken.

Julia Bisso, Staff Writer

On December 7, 2020, the school committee met virtually and voted on the decision to run winter sports for the season, due to safety concerns from the pandemic. The final vote resulted in basketball and ice hockey officially being cancelled for the year. 

During the meeting, Superintendent Bill Olsen voiced his concerns about the increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases across Massachusetts. According to Olsen, the rise in cases allows a greater chance for the virus to be transmitted to students who play sports, which could then be transferred to other students, teachers, and staff. 

The school’s main priority is to keep the Westford community safe. Principal James Antonelli hopes to keep the students of Westford Academy in school for as long as possible. 

This news has left the girl’s basketball team devastated, including Girls’ Varsity Basketball coach Russell Coward. 

“Obviously, I am extremely disappointed. I feel awful for Ellie Nolan, Shadee Saberi, Kelly Mammola, and Sara Cannuscio– the seniors. I hopefully will have more chances to coach, but they are missing their senior year, the culmination of years of clinics, games, practices, and friendships. It is really sad for them,” Coward said. 

Senior Captain Ellie Nolan also shared her feelings towards the recent cancellation.

“I am devastated about the cancellation of the basketball season. I have been playing basketball since I was 4 years old and knowing that I will not get to step onto the court for one last time breaks my heart,” Nolan said.

According to the team, the break in the season will definitely impact them for future seasons, but not entirely in a negative way. 

“Missing the season will obviously put them behind other schools and players in skill development and game experience. Yet, it also might motivate some people to work much harder in the offseason. I think it will vary from individual to individual,” Coward said. 

However, some athletes could also face difficulty when it comes to being recruited. Without having the opportunity to play in front of college coaches, some of these players could be affected in the long-run according to Coward. 

“This year’s class will not be affected. It could hurt the juniors and sophomores a little. Honestly, as long as those players are playing high-level AAU (and they are), it shouldn’t hurt them too badly when they start playing in showcases in spring, summer, and fall,” Coward said.

Nolan also spoke about the concern regarding student’s mental health now that they have lost the chance to play their sport this winter.

“Without an outlet, especially for students, their mental health is in jeopardy and I believe that is one of the most important things to think about for our generation during this pandemic,” Nolan said.

Switching to online school has resulted in a decline in students’ mental health, but the cancellation of certain sports on top of this pandemic has left students and athletes heartbroken.

Despite basketball not being able to run this winter, Coward hopes to honor the team, especially the seniors, properly, when it is safe to do so.

“Pending the distribution of the vaccine, we will have a gathering at some point when safe to honor the seniors from the Class of 2020 and 2021, as our team banquet got cancelled last year the day before it was scheduled to occur,” Coward said.