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A Student's Voice

My name is Gabrielle Ziegler and I am a rising senior at the Delaware Military Academy. I play varsity field hockey and soccer for my school, as well as club soccer for Penn Fusion. A few weeks ago, when I got home from my club soccer practice, my parents told me that the fall high school sports were postponed by the DIAA until after the winter sports season. I thought they were joking because I (as well as a variety of athletes) have been playing sports throughout Delaware all summer with no issues. Unfortunately, this was not a joke at all.

I feel the DIAA decision is unjust for many reasons. To begin, sports have proven to be safe. There has not been one fatality under the age of 18 from COVID in Delaware. Club sport athletes have been playing all summer and there haven’t been any negative effects. New fall leagues (with expenses) are being created in response to the DIAA’s decision. However, the free in-state high school sports are not permitted. Ultimately, the decision makers in Delaware have created a pay to play state. I am one of the fortunate athletes whose family can afford to pay for club sports, however, I would far prefer to play for my school because it means so much more. The rivalries, competition, and socialization mean everything to a high school student. As a high school athlete, my academics always tend to be stronger when my sport is in season. I know the same holds true for other student athletes across the state. My younger sister will be a freshman at DMA this year and we have waited 14 years to play together. These, coupled with the anticipation of my senior season are now in jeopardy.

Finally, what about the mental health of our student athletes? Kids need to get out and interact with other kids. Sports are an outlet to relieve our stress. Before we know it, it will be December and getting dark at 4pm. As high school students, we will be at home on our computer screens completing school work for the fourth straight month. This scenario will do more harm to us than the virus will ever do.

Honestly, sports are something I feel very passionate about , and I feel more compelled to speak up than ever before. This is something I believe in wholeheartedly. Furthermo

re, as this situation negatively impacts me and my fellow athletes across the state, I want to be the confident voice speaking out to benefit ALL high school athletes in Delaware. I couldn’t wait to enjoy my senior year another time— I had to act now. I am grateful for all of the support I have received from the community. Advocating for myself and others has been a rewarding experience that will always make me proud.


Bio: Gabrielle Ziegler, Senior at The Delaware Military Academy, Varsity Field Hockey and Soccer Athlete, Plans on majoring in Communications and playing Soccer.

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