by Andrew Garda
For Lucas Podvey, senior year at Montclair High School was a roller coaster. The starting goalie for the hockey team, Podvey’s excellent play helped propel the squad to its first-ever NJSIAA Public A finals appearance, though they lost in overtime, 3-2, to Morris Knolls.
Immediately after that, Podvey began working on lacrosse, and was looking forward to finishing his Mounties career with a strong season there.
Then COVID-19 happened, the spring season was canceled, and Podvey – like all other MHS students – found himself at home wondering what might have been.
For him, it wasn’t just about the sports.
“I have a lot of friends who are in a dance company, and I kind of pinched myself and was a little annoyed, just because I never made it to a show,” he said. “I was like, I’m going to go this year. And obviously they didn’t have a show this year.”
Podvey also was disappointed he missed a chance to say farewell to some classmates whom he knew but didn’t hang around with, kids who weren’t on the lacrosse or hockey teams.
“There’s a lot of guys that maybe you weren’t so close with but you’re friendly with, and you’re not going to really ever interact with them or see them,” he explained. “Obviously, you might see him in town and say hi, but just to have your friend in a math class that you really aren’t close with, but you enjoy having math class with them. You didn’t really get that closure.”
The lacrosse team’s third season under coach Mike Diehl was supposed to be a breakthrough point for a squad that had been rebuilding for some time. Instead, the hope is that that will happen in the spring of 2021, while Podvey is playing lacrosse at Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pa.
He is looking forward to the challenge, and said it has been an interesting process as he has met teammates over Zoom instead of in person. It also bought Podvey some time to heal a finger he cut badly climbing a fence at the end of school.
While he didn’t relish telling his college coach about that, the reality is that lacrosse is a spring sport. Some lacrosse teams will also have a short practice season in the fall as well, but as many colleges have bypassed fall sports activities due to the pandemic, Podvey won’t miss anything critical.
Podvey said he feels lucky, as he has had a bit of certainty in terms of how his new school is handling the pandemic, while many programs and universities are changing things on a weekly basis as new information about COVID-19 and how athletes might handle it come to light.
“My sister plays Division I ice hockey at St. Lawrence,” he said. Other sports at Podvey’s sister’s school are Division III sports, but hockey plays at the higher Division I level. So the school has to treat hockey differently from any other sport.
For example, he said, St. Lawrence usually depends on students studying abroad because the school doesn’t have enough housing. Depending on how the school decides to handle classes this semester, it’s possible the men’s and women’s hockey teams might live at the rink.
For Podvey, things are much simpler, though not perfect.
“I got my schedule,” he said. “I have a 7:45 a.m. class. Like three times a week at 7:45 a.m. I’m like, ‘You couldn’t have made it a little easier?’”
If they did make it easier, Podvey would probably just pile on more work. He’s planning on double-majoring in political science and corporate communication and then doing a pre-law track.
He might add a minor at some point, because apparently he doesn’t have enough to do.
As he heads to Pennsylvania and the beginning of the next phase of his life, Podvey has a lot of memories as a Mountie that he’ll take with him.
“Even though we lost, it was still sick, playing at the Prudential Center,” he said. “Just everything that came along with that whole [experience]. Literally, you could just say my whole senior hockey season, most a great memory.”