While keeping students safe and class in session has been the top priority of Lausanne's coronavirus response, the school has also worked to ensure extracurricular activities can continue safely. Band, choir, theater and athletic programs have worked to adapt to the situation, and each had to adjust their approach to practices, performances and games. For student-athletes that participate in Lausanne winter sports, the recent local surge in COVID-19 cases had led to uncertainty about the season.
"Because of the nature of contact sports, one positive case could mean the entire team being in close contact, and lead to a suspension of the entire program," explains Stewart Crais, Lausanne's Director of Operations. "That's why we've been extremely vigilant in ensuring everyone is following safety protocols."
That vigilance has led to some tough decisions this school year, including forfeiting a game in the quarterfinal of the state football championship after testing revealed a student had the virus.
"It was a tough decision to make," shares Kevin Locastro, Lausanne's Athletics Director. "But at the end of the day, the safety of our students and our community has to come first in these decisions."
Since the pandemic began, Lausanne's policy has been to follow the guidelines from the CDC and the Shelby County Health Department. In Health Order #15, the Shelby County Health Department asked for all school-related close-contact sports to be suspended beginning on November 23. Being consistent with previous orders, the school followed their recommendation, only two schools in the region to do so.
Earlier this week, Lausanne met with our COVID-19 Task Force members to discuss ways to safely re-start our winter athletics programs and provide afterschool activities for Lausanne students and families. Marvis Davis, our Associate Athletic Director of College Compliance and Leadership and coach of the boys varsity basketball team, presented guidelines for our winter Athletics programs based on best practices used at other schools across the country. After reviewing and discussing these guidelines, a phased plan was developed by the team for winter athletics to resume, outlined in an email to students participating in winter sports Friday morning.
"Ensuring our students' safety and the ability to keep school open continues to be the number one objective of all of us at Lausanne," Locastro said. "We know how much afterschool programs mean to our students, and so we've worked hard to make sure they can continue safely."
The phased plan includes testing of athletes as well as a staggered start to practices and games across grade levels:
Being the first varsity sport to kick off their season, the Lausanne Lynx basketball program is looking to build on the momentum of last season's state championship.
"We're just super happy about the opportunity to be able to play this season," Davis said.
The boys' team returns starters Hayden Ledbetter '22 and AJ Dilworth '23. Along with those starters, key players Langston Rogers '23, Craig Cunningham '22, Tre Davis '24 and Donevin Knight '23 return. All were key in the Lynx winning state last season.
With the Lynx lacking the size of last years team after the graduation of starters Moussa Cisse '20 and Johnathan DeJurnett '20, Coach Davis said the pace and depth of this year's team will be on full display.
"We feel we have a deep team and can play eight to ten players every game," Davis said. "This year, we will truly play the uptempo style of basketball Lausanne is known for."
Not resting on the past success, this year's Lausanne boys' team is focused on making sure the gold ball remains on the Lausanne campus.
"We are a young team this year, but I think we can put ourselves in a position to win our sixth district championship in a row and hopefully make a run for a back-to-back state championship," Davis said.
Just down the hall in the Lausanne girls' basketball team's coaching offices, head coach Lesa Mears is also looking forward to the season ahead.
If there is strength in numbers, this years' girls' basketball team is headed in the right direction. With eighteen student-athletes on the roster and only one senior, Clinne' Caples '21, Coaches Lesa Mears and Wayne Kelley are looking forward to a bright future.
The Lynx return five starters with Abby Hough '23, Lucy Fisher '23 and Curea Cunningham '23 also seeing a lot of action last season.
Mya Campbell '22 also returns after leading the Lynx is scoring and rebounding last season, averaging ten points and six rebounds per game. Defensive specialist Simi Faleye '22 is also ready to take on the opponents' best offensive player.
The addition of members of last years' 7/8th grade league champions, Jocelyn Lyons '24, Anaias Jones '24, Tyler Jones '25 and Delaney Price '25 add depth to the Lynx roster.
"We are proud of this group of young ladies and how hard they have been practicing," Mears said. "Their work ethic is phenomenal and they are competitors in every sense of the word. In an uncertain time, we certainly can count on these young ladies to bring their best every time they step on the hardwood."
The winter sports season getting underway also clears the way for the defending state champion Lausanne cheer team to return to the mat and begin preparing for the High School Cheer Nationals in Orlando, FL in February.
That bid was earned after the team took second at the Mid-South Regionals competition in November.
"We have a special group of athletes this year who love the sport and push themselves to get better every day. We have eight new cheerleaders on the team and one senior who has been an incredible leader for the girls," head coach Kenzie Neel said. "We are using the momentum from our regional competition as we prepare for the opportunity to represent the school in Florida in February."