With habits of heart, mind and character at work, Montrose fall athletes met every challenge for one incredible season.
An Unprecedented Season
Montrose Athletics Director Julie Boynton sits comfortably in her office. Outside is the perfect picture of autumn, as the sky blazes blue and burgundy leaves float aimlessly past the window. It’s a well-earned serenity for Mrs. Boynton and all the Montrose Fall Athletics teams. Not only did these student athletes and their coaches manage to navigate one of the trickiest fall sports seasons in Montrose history, they forged through multiple challenges to earn championship victories in Varsity Soccer and Varsity Volleyball and second place for Cross Country at the New England Division III Championships.
There was no easy on-ramp for getting back to normal post-Covid. The 2020 Fall Season was all but shut down. Players practiced, but there were no games. This year, the games were on, but bus drivers and referees were scarce. A number of powerful rain storms and the need for diligence related to Covid safety protocols cast Mrs. Boynton on a constantly changing course. The result was a day-by-day strategy reboot for Mrs. Boynton and her coaches. Schedules shifted, but the players and coaches never wavered, ready to catch and play with whatever life tossed in their direction. They leaned in with tenacity, hope, and resilience - three of the Habits of Mind, Heart & Character students study and live at Montrose School.
Making Montrose History
The Varsity Volleyball team has only five seasons to its name, but already the team has made history by winning its first Independent Girls Conference. The road to this victory required all hands on deck - literally. The team has grown stronger this year collectively, with no one athlete growing out of pace with the rest. On the court, the team moves as one.
“One thing that is so special about this team is that the coach feels she can put anyone in the game. The growth from the beginning of the season to the end was just incredible. Our side of the court was a full-team effort,” Ms. Boynton remarked.
That team effort turned into a team win in the IGC Championship game against Chapel Hill - Chauncy Hall.. The team clinched the title with a 3 to 1 win against CHCH in the Montrose A&A - the first championship win in Montrose School Varsity Volleyball history. The team headed to the New England Class C Tournament to play The Winchendon School on November 17, and while the game did not end in victory for the Mavericks, the burgeoning team is grateful to have grown so far in such a short time.
It’s All About the Fans
Days after the Varsity Volleyball win, Varsity Soccer had its turn at an IGC championship game, this time against Waring School. But hours before the ball dropped, there was doubt the game would happen at all. Montrose was responding to a small number of Covid cases, and, out of an abundance of caution, school was remote for the day.
Fortunately, the game went on. For the players it was a lonely walk onto the field, as their usual fans - students, parents, teachers, and mentors - were off campus for classes. When the Waring fan bus arrived, spirits dipped. The importance of the Montrose community was more apparent to players and coaches than ever. As the game began, though, faithful fans trickled in, and by the high point of the game, the Montrose cheering section was in full attendance. Their spirit was needed, too. The game was close - 3 to 2 - and clinched the IGC title for Montrose for the third year in a row. But the team was not finished yet. Montrose School Varsity Soccer earned the #1 seed heading into the New England Class D Tournament. The team hosted Rocky Hill School on Wednesday, November 17 at Miracle Field and emerged victorious, with a 5-1 win. Then they advanced to the semifinal game hosting Vermont Academy on Saturday, November 20 but ended up losing in penalty kicks (after two 10-minute overtimes!). It was a heartbreaking ending to a special season, where despite the knocks - on and off the field - the team kept a steady pace with perseverance and positivity.
The Power of Positive Coaching
“I am very proud of my coaching staff,” Mrs. Boynton said while reflecting on the season. “They are really incredible role models to our student athletes. Having a coach you can look up to is so important.”
On Saturday, November 13, Coach Jill Kerr - a record-breaking All-American track and field star herself - led the Montrose Varsity Cross Country team to second place (out of 27 teams) at the New England Division III Championships. For Coach Kerr, the focus is on the positive.
"Sometimes as an athlete, we focus too much on the areas in which we need to improve. That can physiologically be detrimental. So it's building on our strengths. That's my philosophy as a coach as well,” Coach Kerr remarked in a recent interview for her alma mater Wake Forest.
"Figure out where the strengths are and build on them. That's what being a coach is all about. It's just 10 percent working on the weaknesses."
Time to Celebrate
The Montrose community took time to soak in the success of this incredible season with a Fall Sports Celebration on Miracle Field on November 15. All were welcome to join the celebration. After all, at Montrose, a win for one is a win for all! The story of the 2021 fall sports season - one of the most challenging fall sports seasons to date - endures as an example of Maverick fortitude and perseverance. And that is the greatest reason to celebrate of all!
Update: Montrose continues to win championships!
The Montrose Varsity Basketball won the IGC championship with a win against Covenant Christian Academy. Congratulations to all the hard-working athletes and the dedicated leadership of Coach Kailyn Aguiar & Coach Kathryn Purinton.