OR athletes breathe fresh air for spring season

May 25, 2021

After two seasons of mask-wearing, Old Rochester Regional High School athletes are finally getting some fresh air.

“Seeing kids' faces again, honestly, that’s what I’m the most excited about,” OR Athletic Director Bill Tilden said.

With the spring sports season underway and mask-wearing mandates lifted, athletes are closing out the year with a season that looks more like years past.

“I think we’re in a better place,” Tilden said.

Still, Tilden noted that he’s “still worried about close contacts and all that,” with lifted restrictions.

But he said he no longer has to worry about athletes in cardiovascularly demanding sports like track and field and lacrosse having trouble breathing in masks. He noted that, when masks were mandated, it could be difficult to see signs of exhaustion in athletes.

Now, Tilden said, “we get to go back to a normal workout. I think the kids are in amazing shape.”

Specifically, the athletic director said taking off the masks seems like it will lead to big improvements for the times of his track athletes.

“I do think they’re a little faster for it,” Tilden said, “but they had to work really hard to get there.”

Additionally, state-level competition will return for the spring season, after it was nixed for the winter and “Fall II” seasons.

Playoffs will start in mid-June this year, but Tilden said it’s unclear exactly what they’ll look like, as the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association is using an opt-in model for state championships.

“I'm looking forward to getting back to a playoff atmosphere,” Tilden said. He said the South Coast Conference playoffs in the “Fall II” season were good, but “states are a different animal.”

And he said the athletes are ready to compete. Even two-and three-sport athletes, who have played each of their seasons this year in quick succession, are looking good.

“They’re actually doing better than I thought they would,” Tilden said. “We’ve had some wear-and-tear injuries, but not many.”