TURNER — It was impossible to ignore the Leavitt girls soccer team’s positive energy and wide smiles at what appeared to be more of a reunion than the Hornets’ first practice of the season.

Low humidity, cooler air —with hints that autumn is on the way — and a sun-drenched field fired up the Hornets’ celebratory mood on Monday.

Senior goalie Carlie Leavitt wants to leave it all the field and enjoy some semblance of normalcy this season.

“I mean, it is my last season and I actually really like the group of girls we have this year,” she said. “It is all around here like a great vibe so far, even if it is the first day. I feel like this year is going to be a good season. I am excited. It is not too hot, yet, but it feels good to have everybody back on the field.”

“I think we are creeping back to some normalcy,” Leavitt girls soccer coach Chris Cifelli said. “I think the other part, too, is the kids are enthusiastic about getting back on the field with a little more certainty of expectations (like) not worrying about the different color codings, masks and things like that.”

Cifelli believes the fall season is simply fun for coaches and athletes alike.

“You see your friends; you are still outside,” he added.

Leavitt remains apprehensive about COVID-19, but she said there is a sense of normalcy that has returned.

“I hope it is going to be a normal season — like (having) homecoming and everything — but it seems normal right now, but I feel things might change quickly,” she added. “ I got it (vaccine shot) right out of the way. I feel healthy and protected.”

She received her second shot and had a softball game the next day — and she was still feeling the mild effects of the vaccine — but she added getting vaccinated benefits the entire team.

“I think (getting the shots) just makes everything easier,” she said.

Senior Emma Chiasson said cutting loose and enjoying school and sports last year never really happened. 

“Now that we are out here, things are getting a little bit better,” she said. “We are able to play as a team again. It is definitely a team effort. It is really going to be bittersweet. It is going to be nice.”

Chiasson is well aware that the coronavirus could get in the way of this season, too.

“You never really know…,” she said. “But I think if it all pans out — we played last year, it can’t be any worse than that. I was vaccinated because that’s the biggest thing. If we play someone and they end up being positive, then we would have to sit out for two weeks.”

Cifelli said COVID-19 is a shadow that will continue to hang over this season. 

“Can we try to reset what normalcy was?” he said. “Now, we have to worry more about getting ready for opponents, where last year you could kind of look at (the season) much more developmentally. Now you are going to keep an eye to the Heal points a little bit more carefully. 

“But the other part, too, is just even the kids getting used to the expectations of a season like training and keeping their grades up. I am cautiously optimistic. I am sure that is what everybody is going to say. I think we still have to play and keep an eye on making sure that not only the athletes are safe but kids in our building are safe, too.”

He said it is encouraging to see the field hockey and football teams practicing again.

“It is kind of our thing that we play in between (Leavitt football coach Mike Hathaway’s) whistles,” he said. “That’s what we are used to — having an active campus. It is just a picture-perfect way to get back.”

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