A leap of faith. That’s what many of those who made their first appearance last week on the Alumni Fieldhouse floor at The Woodstock Academy took.
“This is some of the guys first time at Alumni Fieldhouse,” said Woodstock Academy prep basketball coach Jacque Rivera. “They have trusted our process, trusted our tradition here at The Academy, to come here sight unseen. They could not come and tour (the campus) in the spring or summer.”
The majority of the 31 players that will make up the prep program this season arrived in late August.
But unlike past years where the first thing they may see is the basketball court, this group had to weather the pandemic-created environment.
That included testing for COVID-19 before leaving home and, once they arrived on the Woodstock Academy, staying in quarantine for 14 days and being tested again.
The only athletic activity took place on the South Campus turf where players, in small groups and socially distanced outside, took part in drills with strength and conditioning coach Brenden Ostaszewski.
Those same small groups of six were later allowed to take part in skill drills inside the South Campus gym.
Last week, the Centaurs were allowed to reduce the number of groups to two with approximately 15 players in each.
Those players live on the same floor in the residence halls.
“They are in family pods,” Rivera said. “Credit our residential life staff for all the work they have done in making sure that we maintain distance and follow all the guidelines. It’s been slow and steady.”
The entire team has not been allowed to practice together as of yet.
All Rivera wanted to see last week was how his players looked going up-and-down the court. Not an easy task considering some of the players hadn’t been in a competitive situation since March and that was complicated by the fact that the floor inside the fieldhouse is college length.
The fatigue was evident at times.
Twenty-seven of the players are post-graduate players.
“We have unbelievable kids. I know I say that every year but this group is very unique. To be three weeks into this thing and they’re all wearing masks; going to school; we haven’t had any absences; in this time, is a testament to their character. We have some really high character kids,” Rivera said.
Rivera was pretty happy with what he saw on the first night of the 5-on-5 scrimmages between his players.
“I thought that was pretty good for the first time out,” Rivera said. “I thought we got our hands on a lot of shots. I thought we shared it better than I thought we would, I was impressed with that. I thought they played hard and physical.”
The Woodstock Academy coach was pleased with the play of 6-foot, 9 ½-inch post player Isha Mohammade, a Nigerian native, who altered a lot of his teammates’ shots. He also praised guard Gerald Gittens (Brooklyn, N.Y.) for taking a charge, something not always seen in scrimmage play. Rivera also pointed out the play of 6-6 Pipe Ajayi (Alberta, Canada) for making several nice lob passes and playing strong around the rim.
Rivera still has a tough task ahead of him, determining who will be on each of the two teams, the Gold and Blue.
That, however, may take some time and it’s a luxury that Rivera may have this season as no one truly knows when the season will start.
The state of the pandemic will dictate that.
Marc Allard
Director of Sports Information
The Woodstock Academy


RocketTheme Joomla Templates