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LSMSA hits the road with sports themed meet ups across the state

The Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts (LSMSA) is hitting the road to bring physical fitness and socializing opportunities for its students across the state as the school finished out its Fall virtual semester due to Covid-19 concerns.
“The whole experience offered me a little insight into my future at LSMSA,” said Aroma Chanda (Hammond, ’23). As a new student, Chanda has only associated with her classmates online. She attended the school’s first meet up in Baton Rouge on Oct. 3. 
“This really made everything a reality for me and made me so much more excited for when we actually arrive on campus,” she said.
When the idea to hold these meet ups across the state began, LSMSA Athletics and Recreation Coordinator Coach Dale Clingerman, with the help of Director of Enrollment and Student Services Emily Shumate, sent out questionnaires to find out if students would be interested and what sports they wanted to play. Other cities where these meet ups will be held include New Orleans on Oct. 24, Lake Charles on Nov. 7 and Natchitoches on Oct. 17 and Nov. 14.
“We’re holding two meet ups at the LSMSA campus in Natchitoches because the kids think of the school as their home away from home, so we thought it’d be a good idea to give them the opportunity to come visit,” said Clingerman. 
Parents quickly became involved in the planning process so there’d be snacks for the evening events, which offered students the opportunity to visit while playing volleyball, soccer, basketball, ultimate frisbee and more. 
It meant a lot to Connor Barney (Destrehan, '21) to go tho the Oct. 3 event. 
“Being in lockdown does a lot to you mentally, and being able to play sports and see so many familiar faces felt good,” he shared.
All activities are being held outdoors, with the exception of the events on the LSMSA campus, which will be held in the gym. This is due to Covid restrictions. Students are also asked to complete a Covid checklist along with permission forms from parents so organizers can make sure it’s safe for everyone involved.
“The thing I liked most about the [first] event was being able to connect with my teammates,” said Malachi Jarrett (Hammond, ’23). “We've had virtual meetings, but I hadn't gotten to have any actual conversations with them until this weekend. Getting to connect with my teammates and have that sense of companionship was really meaningful for me. I'll definitely go to another one!”
While the meet ups are a great chance for students to socialize, it’s also a chance for LSMSA’s student athletes to bond with their teammates and practice for the highly anticipated SLAMT tournament, an annual intramural athletics competition between LSMSA and its sister schools in the area.
“The fact that we had this chance to establish ourselves as teammates is a big step towards the future of our SLAMT ambitions,” said Jalen Xia (Gretna, ’21).
Ashleigh Zaidain (La Place, '21) said she enjoyed the outside environment the most because it offered students a chance to connect with nature and step away from some of their other worries. 
“The coaches coming down and helping meant a lot to us because we all can't wait to be back at school, and sports are a great reminder that LSMSA is there for us,” she said. “I'll be attending other events as well!”