This year high fives turned into elbow bumps, and the lineup to tell each other “good game” has turned into a wave across the field. Athletics was faced with many challenges and forced to make numerous changes. Indoor sports were played outdoors, boys and girls teams were integrated into one team, three seasons of sports were condensed to two. But throughout it all, the Athletics department worked tirelessly to provide an athletic experience for Poly’s student-athletes to the best of their abilities, updating and enforcing policies and protocols all within a moment’s notice, always making sure to consistently put the health and safety of the student-athletes at the forefront. “The athletic department surveyed the seniors before the year asking what they wanted from the athletic department. They voiced they wanted athletic competition and CIF playoffs. Our goal was to give every team an athletic experience, while keeping our athletes safe and we felt that goal was reached,” said Athletic Director Steve Beerman. Through the many changes and challenges, many of Poly’s teams embraced the experiences and thrived within them. We are proud of the sportsmanship shown by our student-athletes during a year unlike any other.
Poly’s cross country team, in conjunction with other Prep League schools, were forced to get creative this season. Because they could not run together, and many sites were closed to large crowds, they put together a virtual meet against league teams. Student-athletes ran different assigned distances and then came together to combine the times of different runners to create a relay. Teams compared their final times to determine the fastest relay time ran for each school allowing them to still run and compete.
Most of the dance team’s season was held online through Zoom practices. The challenge of rehearsing dance routines and stepping in line together was met with constant perseverance. The team worked hard and they were patient with themselves and each other. At the end of their season, they concluded by coming together, in person, and showcasing their hard work on the field of the Rose Bowl during the football game.
The pandemic posed an interesting situation for our fencing team, as it did for other fall teams. Fencing is not an interscholastic sport and competitions are usually held in fencing studios, however, the pandemic closed all of the studios in the area. The program had to get creative. Poly’s fencing team ended up hosting an outdoor competition on the Debbie Reed Courtyard. They taped down lines and competed against local fencing studios allowing a competitive season.
As football is a high contact sport, practices were limited throughout most of the season. Many drills had to be shelved and many others modified to adhere to the health guidelines of the time. By the end of their season, the team was able to hold a scrimmage at South Pasadena High School as well as go head-to-head with league rival Rio Hondo Prep under the lights of Pasadena’s iconic Rose Bowl Stadium. Many exciting games have been played on that field, and Poly vs. Rio 2020-2021 is now one of them.
The girls volleyball program went from being an indoor sport to an outdoor sport this past school year. Their earlier practices were constrained to one ball per pair and each pair distanced six feet from each other. Towards the end of their season, they were allowed to play six-on-six in a more traditional manner. Their season wrapped up with two league games against Flintridge Prep and Chadwick School where they played on an outdoor net lined up on the 50-yard line of the football field on Babcock Field. With the elements adding a new dimension to the sport, they were at least given the opportunity to come together as a team and compete. This was certainly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that the girls may never forget.
The water polo program was presented with a unique opportunity for the boys and the girls to play together on one team. It was not the first time boys and girls played together since girls played on the boys water polo team in the mid-90’s. However, it was the first time since Poly established a girls program that the two came together to play together as a co-ed team. The boys and girls trained together and played together finishing their season playing against Chadwick and St. Francis as a coed team and also having the opportunity to play separately against Flintridge Prep.
The team experienced an abridged season competing against three other teams, playing two teams twice. They finished with an overall record of 2-3, having a deficit of only one point in two of those losses. Regardless of their overall team record, they were able to send six individuals to the CIF individual playoffs to represent Poly. One individual, William W. ’21, advanced to the individual finals representing Poly in the boys singles playoffs.
Poly’s Boys Varsity Basketball team finished an exceptional season earning the title of Prep League champions after going undefeated in league and with an overall record of 11-2. They continued their win streak all the way into the playoffs where they also earned the title of 2021 CIF-Southern Section Division 4AA Boys Basketball Champions! They qualified for the CIF-State Division 3 playoffs where they fell in the first round by eight points to Hoover High School from Fresno.
Although the girls had low numbers due to the combined season sports, Poly’s girls basketball team still found much success. This young team worked hard finishing .500 on the season and earning themselves a bid to the 2021 CIF-SS Division 3 Girls Basketball Playoffs. They were victorious in the first round defeating Santa Clara in a close, buzzer-beating three-point shot before dropping in the second round. With no seniors on the team, the squad returns all of their players next season.
Baseball went 12-5 overall and second in the Prep League with a league record of 9-3. They advanced to the 2021 CIF-SS Division III Baseball Playoffs where they fell to Calabasas High School in the first round. They graduated five seniors while six juniors will rise up as leaders for next season.
Due to limited numbers, Poly competed against schools but were really playing for individual improvement. By the end of the season, Henry H. ’22 individually qualified for league finals and finished third overall. This qualified him to compete in the CIF individual prelims where he concluded his season.
Poly’s boys soccer team returned to the pitch after finishing as semifinalists in the 2019-2020 season. They completed this 2020-2021 season undefeated with an overall record of 6-0-2 and with the title of back-to-back Prep League Champions. They extended their season by entering the 2021 CIF-SS Division 6 Boys Soccer playoffs where they made it to the second round before being defeated for the first time this season. Although their season was cut shorter than they would have liked, they will return a strong eight members as seniors next year.
A traditionally winter sport, Poly’s Girls Soccer team found themselves playing their season this year in the spring. They finished league play with a .500 winning percentage and extended their season into the 2021 CIF-SS Division 4 Girls Soccer Playoffs. They made it to the first round of play where they fell to St. Margaret’s Episcopal School in a very close 1-2 match. One of the most memorable experiences they had this season was being able to compete on the field of the iconic Rose Bowl Stadium where they got to walk through the same tunnels as many sports greats that came before them.
Swimming and Diving
Due to many student-athletes having to choose between their traditional winter sport and spring sport this season, the swimming and diving team were down a bit in numbers. However, they still found success on a team and individual level. The boys team won their first Prep League Championship since 2012. Although the girls team was not able to move on as a team, senior Katie Hoffman did qualify to represent Poly in the 2021 CIF-SS Division 3 Swimming and Diving Championships. She finished eighth in the 50-yard freestyle and seventh in the 100-yard breaststroke.
Poly’s boys tennis team experienced a unique season in their own right. They were a young team composed of all sophomores and freshmen. Despite their youth, they finished with a winning overall record of 4-3, 4-2 in the Liberty League. Placing second in the league earned them a playoff berth. In addition to being a young team, they earned an opportunity to compete in Division 1 of the CIF-SS Playoffs. This was the first time in Poly’s history that any team has competed in the Division 1 playoffs. Although their youth was defeated by the very experienced team from Newbury Park, it shows much promise for the program in future seasons to come.
The Girls Varsity Tennis team, a traditionally fall sport, welcomed many new members to the team this year including seven freshmen to its roster. Led by its sole senior, Emma Cadogan, the team improved greatly as the season progressed. They were able to end their season on a high note defeating Chadwick in their last game of the season. The team looks forward to being back in the fall to compete in their traditional season.
Track and Field
This pandemic season made it difficult for the track and field to have a more traditional season like the other spring sports had. This season focused more on the improvement of the individual student-athlete and less about a team experience as a whole. They were, however, able to participate in two competitions. The first was a dual meet at Chadwick. The second was a Poly-hosted league finals at South Pasadena High School. From there, two members qualified for CIF prelims and one member advanced to the finals. Now that Caltech’s facilities have reopened, they look forward to a more traditional season next spring.
Poly’s boys volleyball team was another team filled with youth being led by two juniors. The other six members were two sophomores and four freshmen. The smaller size of the team allowed for more focused training and allowed the younger, less-experienced members to get in a lot of repetitions throughout the season. Their overall record of 1-6 is not indicative of the grit this team displayed as they improved and grew together as a team. There is great potential to expand from this core group of boys and they show promise for future seasons to come.