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The first day of interscholastic athletic practices commenced at sunrise on Islip High School’s fields, track and courts as the Buccanners grabbed the first opportunity on Aug. 23 to spring forward with the fall athletic season. Under a rainbow sky, the athletes gathered on the football field as Principal Jon LaRochester led participants in the Pledge of Allegiance and senior Isabella Green sang the national anthem.

The sunrise evoked the meaning of a new day and a new beginning, especially after the difficulties experienced by athletes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dubbed by Dr. O’Hara as #IslipRising, this special return to the athletic season symbolized a sense of normalcy by student-athletes who have had to play under strict protocols and shortened seasons.

“While other district athletes were still in bed, the Buccaneers have just completed their first practice of the athletic season,” Dr. O’Hara said. “The sunrise symbolizes our getting back to normal. But in Islip, we’re not getting back to normal. We’re springing forward.”

Head football coach Jamie Lynch remarked that the sunrise practice was an excellent idea. He said, “The athletes have been through so much, and to see them with smiles on their faces and with a lot of energy for the fall season, it could not have been a better event.” He continued, “We’re all pumped up and ready to go for 2021 #IslipRising.”

High school athlete Jamison Seeger said #IslipRising was a great event. “It really brought everyone together to kick off the new year in the right way.”