The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Roxbury Football Team and Community


Photo courtesy of Gaelvision.


Every September many students dread walking into school because of all the homework, quizzes, and tests. The one thing that gets students at Roxbury High School hyped for at the beginning of the cold school year is the Football season. The energy, the yelling of the student section, the themes for FNL, and the seniors getting everyone off their butts and cheering for the football boys are what give this Roxbury community life. It gives us students something to look forward to  and, instead of dragging our feet in the halls, it starts us all off on a good note. Sadly, due to COVID-19, this year did not fulfill many of our expectations and traditions

COVID-19 Changes Roxbury Tradition

Over the past years, the football seasons have been nothing short of amazing. The incoming freshman take their spot at the bottom of the stands and get pushed off by seniors as per tradition, the juniors just wait for that spot to be theirs, the school clowns get the student section and parents hyped, the effort everyone shows by putting their FNL outfits together, and all watch the football team give their best effort to win every game. This year turned all of that around.

COVID-19 destroyed the possibilities of these activities happening and limited the boy’s practices and games. COVID-19 has affected more sports and activities than just football. It affected the Roxbury Girls Softball season last school year, it moved Roxbury Girls Volleyball season, and it moved Roxbury Boys and Girls Basketball to a different season, just to name a few. But Roxbury’s football was one of the first teams that COVID-19 impacted.

Many Morris County teams were forced to forfeit games because the virus. To gain more insight into this unprecedented season and the hardships that plagued this football season , I interviewed some  of our football players, coaches, and parents. 

Players’ Thoughts On This Season

The stress the football community went through is unimaginable. Interviews were conducted with a couple of players on the Roxbury football team and here is what they had to say. 

First off, there were many limitations and struggles that the boys on the football team had—such as limited hours in the weight room, players forced to quarantine, many injuries, limited time to set up for the next team, and reduced team bonding opportunities. Aiden Toupet (Junior, Center, and Defensive End) and Jason Guancione (Junior, Offensive Guard, and Defensive Tackle) have shared some of their struggles and opinions on this 2020 season.

Toupet said he struggled with not being strong enough this year because of the restrictions on the weight room, which affected everyone else as well. To adhere to COVID-19 protocols, the school was forced to reduce weight room hours and put several other restrictions in place. This change made training more difficult.

Jason Guancione and Jadon Derosa (Freshman, Tight End, and Defensive End) were two of many players who had to quarantine, and Jason said that was the biggest challenge he went through as an individual. He stated, “When I had to quarantine myself for 2 weeks it was driving me insane.” Jadon also missed the beginning of his freshman season to quarantine and stated, “I became overwhelmed once at the beginning of the season when I had to miss 2 weeks of football to quarantine. I was nervous to go back to school because I didn’t want to be exposed to the virus and have to quarantine again.” 

Keeping the football season going was very difficult. It impacted their performance a bit and, overall, it was a different experience than in past years. Every day, the players went to football practices and their daily routine went something like this: temperature checks,  socially-distanced film reviews, getting out on the field and moving, and sometimes weight room (where masks were enforced).

During games, it was practically the same thing: players must remain socially distanced on the sidelines, wear a face mask, bring their own water, and, after games, bring home all of your equipment so it could get washed. This virus set the football team back a lot, but was it as bad as we think? From Aiden’s account, he said, “Yes, 100%. With no weight room, limited practice time, and a dwindling roster, it really made it difficult to succeed. As an individual, I know I could play 100x better, but I just didn’t have the motivation.” Hopefully, with all the experience the coaches and players got from this year, they will know how to handle it even better than they did next year. 

Roxbury Community

The Roxbury community was amazed by the coaching on the football team considering all they had to deal with. A player stated, “Our coaches haven’t received enough recognition for the time and effort they put into this season. Coach Lorusso, in particular, always believed in us and was able to keep us all healthy. He was very adamant about being safe and socially distancing.” Parents also had to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 virus. They could see the energy at games drop, the presence of fans dwindling, and they were often concerned the boys not having a season at all.

The tickets were also a big issue, because some even felt there should have been a ticket for each immediate family member. A parent of one of our players stated, “It was hard for the boys to mentally and physically prepare for the short season the boys had this year and it’s going to be just as hard for next season.” We are hoping the team can bounce back on their feet faster next season.

Ending of a Crazy Year

This 2020 season had its ups and downs. From some players having to quarantine and miss two weeks of football to the many injuries during the season, it was hard to have a positive look on the season. Fortunately our boys put their blood, sweat, and tears into this season and worked their butts off even harder than in previous years. They took what they had, adjusted, and kept on moving and that is something the Roxbury community should be inspired by.

When asked to look back on this season Aiden Toupet couldn’t have said it any better, “The record did not reflect how hard these guys worked this year. No matter what I believe in my guys.” Next season will be an interesting one and hopefully less affected by COVID-19 than this 2020 season. Go get em’ Gaels!