Skating Through Covid Challenges


David Muzzatti

ON THE ICE Beau Brewer ‘22 awaits the puck in an attempt to score. As the lone Greenhills senior on the hockey team, Brewer was elected captain by his teammates. Brewer played on the regional winning team during the 2018-2019 season and helped lead the team to a Catholic League and Metro League title during the 2020-2021 season. He was also named a Catholic League honorable mention during his sophomore year. “I love this team,” said Brewer. “Even though many of the players go to FGR, I have shared many special moments and bonded with them. The hockey team is like a second family to me.”

Arjun Prabhakar '23, Associate Editor Online

It’s tough enough to block a slap shot, but it is even more difficult when your season starts five months late. As well as facing challenges such as this, Greenhills Hockey players power through obstacles everyday to play the sport they love.

Greenhills has been combined with Father Gabriel Richard (FGR) for five years since there are not enough players from Greenhills to form a team. Prior to the creation of the split team, there was no option to play hockey at Greenhills. This year, the only players from Greenhills on the team are Beau Brewer ‘22, Nate Burke ‘23, Griffin White ‘23, Nicholas Cantrell ‘23, and Ryan Kowalchik ‘23. 

“The hockey team is composed of 26 players so only a small percentage of the players are from Greenhills,” said Brewer. 

In a regular season, the players face challenges when it comes to team bonding, but in the previous season, they faced significantly more challenges. One of these challenges was that the team was unable to begin practicing until February due to COVID-19 cases. Unlike the previous season, a regular season begins practicing in October and has their first game in November. 

“A traditional hockey season has twenty five games and lasts for eighteen weeks, but our season started five months late, so we only had a five week season with fifteen games,” said Burke. 

The shortened season meant fewer practices and games which had a direct impact on team chemistry.

“I feel like we were not able to bond and create a strong team chemistry with each other, especially with the new players. The season felt rushed and lacked some of the team spirit from previous years,” said Kowalchik.

Along with the rushed season, COVID-19 created many other problems. 

“We had to wear masks at all times, causing us to get tired faster, come mostly dressed to the arena, no spectators were allowed in most rinks, and there was a lot of excess stress on us because if one member of the team contracted COVID-19 then we would all have to quarantine for two weeks,” said Burke. 

One of the biggest disappointments for the team was the lack of spectators. 

“The energy from the crowd is amazing. It helps fire us up and play to the best of our abilities,” said White. 

“The FGR/GH coach, Clint Robert, does a nice job with building team culture. If you’ve ever visited the locker room, it is clear that he is very intentional on how he includes people. He ensures that everyone feels included and respected,” said Greenhills Athletic Director Meg Seng.

Due to COVID-19, however, it was harder for the players to bond in the locker room since they had to stay six feet apart and multiple players did not go in the locker room. 

“It is definitely harder to bond with my teammates because we live far away,” said Burke. 

Burke also added that this is because of conflicting schedules between the teammates at Greenhills as well as those at FGR, it is hard to spend time together as a team outside of practices and competition,” said Burke.

Despite these challenges, the team was still able to become Metro West Champions and Cardinal Division Catholic League Champions. 

The combined team practices at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube is about a 20 minute drive for students from both schools. For many players this creates long drives not just to the cube, but also when they go home. 

“The  amount of time I spend driving to and from hockey takes away a significant amount of time I could use to keep on top of my school work,” said Burke. 

However, the 4:30 p.m. practices help players overcome such challenges.

“The timing of the practices gives us time to either finish homework or get something to eat since the rink is conveniently located right off the highway where there are a lot of restaurants,” said Brewer.

Due to COVID-19, many of the upperclassmen were unable to give the underclassmen rides to the Ann Arbor Ice Cube. 

“In a regular season, there are plenty of upperclassmen from each school to get the underclassmen to the rink and we make sure that everyone has a ride before we leave everyday. However, with the COVID-19 guidelines parents had to take the underclassmen to the rink,” said Brewer.

With the more lenient restrictions, the team has started on schedule and has returned to an almost normal season. The upperclassmen are able to drive the underclassmen to games and practices, players are able to interact in the locker rooms, and players are able form better bonds with each other. 

“Due to the restrictions last year, the team has now realized to not take anything for granted. We will cherish every moment and strengthen the bonds we have with each other,” said Brewer.