Newton high school athletes are on the rebound

While Newton educators were on strike for 15 days, student athletes at Newton North and Newton South high schools were forced to improvise to keep playing their sports during the unexpected hiatus.

Coaches were instructed not to communicate with their teams during the Newton Teachers Association strike, so captains were left to organize practices and team events away from school property. This role came with the responsibility of keeping up morale and figuring out logistics for workouts.

Senior Ellie Jolly, a captain of the Newton South girls’ indoor track team, got creative with the unexpectedly extensive assignment of holding team workouts without an indoor track and with limited equipment.

“The hurdlers worked out in my living room. They did hurdle drills. And then they all went on runs from my house and I gave them breakfast after. It was great. Honestly, it brought all of us a lot closer together,” she said.

South’s Nordic ski team still participated in races during the strike, although the contests didn’t count. Sophomore captains Hannah Leese and Charlotte Ottmer said team members still enjoyed competing with each other.

Because no official games and matches could take place during the strike, many were postponed, with 56 competitions having to be made up for North sports alone. 

“It’s been incredibly hard,” said North Athletic Director Mike Jackson, “We’ve been working hard with all of our opponents, the Bay State Conference coaches, and the ADs, who get a ton of credit.”

With the winter season coming to an end Thursday, Feb. 22, these competitions have to be made up in a short period of time. 

South Athletic Director Patricia Gonzalez said she took into account the impact of back-to-back games on the athletes when she rescheduled games.

“Under regular circumstances, you want time of recovery and you want time where the students can practice. The fun part of the season is to play, but when you play too many games in a row, emotionally it takes a toll on you.”

Some competitions, like track meets, include a large number of teams, so North and South teams missed competing in them entirely. For the Newton North boys’ indoor track team, this meant risking a 27-year undefeated streak.

“We are not sure if that goes down as a technical forfeit, which would end our streak, but for the guys on the team, the record is the record at the end of the day and there is nothing you can do if you can’t race,” said senior captain DJ Harvey. “There is still not a team in our conference that has beaten us in the last 27 years indoors.” 

Guidance counselor Ari Kenyon, a Newton South girls indoor track assistant coach, said the timing of the strike was unfortunate for the team because it occurred during a critical stretch of the season.

The strike “was right in the middle of the season as people are starting to peak because we’re going to be heading into championship season. So missing out on opportunities to compete and to qualify for the league championship and the Division One championship” was unfortunate, she said.

Overall, Newton sports teams have faced a number of challenges as a result of the strike. 

According to Jolly, these challenges were worth it because the strike and the resulting contract honored the hard work of their coaches.

“I’m really happy that this contract went through because I feel like more attention needs to be brought to everything that our coaches do. They are incredible people who are incredibly devoted to us and are really, really important to high school students,” Jolly said.

Photo: The North girls’ basketball team practices at the Wells Ave YMCA during the strike, Monday, Jan. 29. Shown: Senior Maggie Scanlon, Sophomores Nina Bakal and Allie Danis, and Freshman Makenna Kelley. Credit: Gabe Kolodner.


Newton South High School

Basketball, Boys:

Lions 48 (7-7), Concord-Carlisle 41 (5-12)
Lions 58 (7-7), Chelmsford 47 (4-12)
Lions 58 (7-7), Westford Academy 45 (7-8)

Basketball, Girls:

Chelmsford 41 (11-6), Lions 27 (2-11)
Westford Academy 44 (4-11), Lions 30 (2-11)
Norwood 59 (13-4), Lions 26 (2-11)

Hockey, Boys:

Acton-Boxborough 1 (2-16), Lions 0 (0-12-1)
Waltham 3 (10-5-1), Lions 1 (0-12-1)
Tewksbury 9 (13-3), Lions 2 (0-12-1)
Boston Latin Academy 4 (5-7-3), Lions 4 (0-12-1)


Westford Academy 134.3 (6-0), Lions 124.4 (1-3)

Swim, Girls:

6th Place (DCLS)

Swim, Boys:

8th Place (DCLS)

Newton North High School

Basketball, Boys:

Tigers: 43 (8-5), Wellesley: 40 (6-9)
Tigers: 38 (8-5), Needham: 36 (11-4)
Natick: 46 (13-3), Tigers: 45 (8-5)

Basketball, Girls:

Wellesley: 51 (12-3), Tigers: 34 (7-6)
Needham: 57 (11-4), Tigers: 44 (7-6)
Tigers: 57 (7-6), Natick: 33 (4-10)

Hockey, Boys: (5-6-1)


Tigers: 142.8 (5-0), Wellesley: 139.25 (7-1)
Tigers: 134.95 (5-0), Brookline: 111.45 (0-7)

Alpine Skiing:

Nordic Skiing, Boys (4th):
Mass Bay Ski League race: 4th

Nordic Skiing, Girls (6th): 
Mass Bay Ski League race: 5th

Swim and Dive, Boys: (2-6)


Tigers: 48 (4-3-1), Walpole 26 (0-8)
Tigers: 39 (4-3-1), Brookline 39 (4-2-1)

Newton North and South Girls Hockey:

Wellesley: 8 (5-6-3), Crush: 2 (3-10)
Milton: 6 (13-3), Crush: 1 (3-10)
Natick: 4 (10-5-1), Crush: 1 (3-10)