By Sarah Rusali
The recent pandemic has not only affected schools’ learning platform and how we view education but also school athletes. At the beginning of March 2020, sports were canceled throughout the country. Training and events were put on hold and athletes were told to go home. Money that was spent on these programs for things like equipment was halted, and many athletes were left in the dark.
Now, as the school year progresses, sports have still been a big ‘what if,’ and athletes are confused about what will happen next.
Now that their weeks aren’t consumed with practice and events, some student-athletes feel they can focus more on school work and getting their grades up.
Jade Lim, a sophomore on the basketball team, said, “I feel better without basketball, I guess because during basketball season I just get super stressed and anxious. I was fine handling it, some days were kinda hard.”
Before, most athletes felt stressed having to organize their schedules and treated school as a second-class priority. Now, some feel as if a weight has been lifted off their shoulders.
Despite being able to catch up on work they normally would put off, students also expressed disadvantages. Athletes are not able to practice with the proper equipment and feel they have lost motivation to continue outside of their team.
Lim expressed her thoughts on fellow athletes’ access to supplies, “Obviously not everyone has a basketball net or a soccer field, so I feel like now, I am trying to take this time to improve my skills, but it’s hard because I don’t have access to everything … I work out in the mornings and you can’t dribble a ball at 6 am.”
After two weeks of training by himself, Matthew Dao-Pick, a sophomore on varsity cross-country and track team, stopped. He explained, “I stopped because I lost motivation to do it. Having a team kept me motivated than just doing it by myself.”
This loss of motivation and the delay of sports has hindered the progress in athletes’ training.
Paris Lin, a sophomore on the varsity volleyball team said, “I feel like my
muscles are disappearing. I feel a lot weaker. I used to lift a lot of heavy stuff and now I can’t really do that because I haven’t been practicing or moving around as much as I used to.”
Other than training, sports teams also acted as a way for people to connect. Younger athletes were able to bond with older athletes and form friendships. These friendships can sometimes last throughout school and older athletes become a sort of mentor to the younger athletes. Younger students can now see the older ones as people to ask for help or guidance.
Dao-Pick also states, “I was bonding with people from the team and then [the] pandemic comes last year and just wrecks that.” Now that they don’t have a sport to connect them with, they barely talk and he feels he has lost those relationships he made.
He also offered a solution to continuing sports at Shasta. Dao-Pick thinks we should not have events but keep practices; while following all the necessary rules to keep safe including masks and routine checkups.
Athletes are unsure if their sport is being held back or canceled. They feel as if they have not been properly informed with all the needed information on how the school is handling the situation.
Lim has stated, “I’ve got[ten] updated a couple of times … but it was the same message,” and Dao-Pick said, “I feel like there could be more communication. They should definitely keep us updated more.”
Ethan Pang, a senior on the track and soccer team says, “I got one email and it said they were gonna have two seasons,
but I haven’t heard anything else beyond that.”
However, Pang feels like the school is doing all they can: “I don’t see what else they could do besides what they’ve already done, [except] be more clear that they don’t really have a plan.”
To athletes like Paris Lin, sports are an integral part of their lives and have taught them many life lessons. Lin says, “[Volleyball] teaches me how to balance my school life and my social life. It just teaches me more responsibility.”
Although sports have taught Lin many lessons, it also takes up a lot of her free time. Being an athlete is extremely demanding and it creates a lot of stress for her. She talks about her experience with this heavy workload and the draining practice times: “[Practice] was mostly 8-10 [p.m.] freshman year, so I was really stressed out. How was I supposed to get my homework done and play volleyball that late, then wake up at 6 am every day? That was definitely not my best time, freshman year.”
Regardless of the constant stress, athletes still miss the excitement.
Melina De Souza, a sophomore on the track and soccer team says, “The thing I miss most from track, are the friends that I made, the skills that I learned, and also the stretching after practice.”
For players who would normally be in the offseason right now, they are just waiting to see if their season will continue.
Parker Mendoza, a sophomore on the baseball team whose season starts in the spring, says, “If anything I feel like pushing [the season] back has motivated me. I want to be ready for the season so I’m not rusty.”
If the pandemic is still happening during his season he proposes to still have practice: “Baseball is a very distant sport, there’s not a lot of contacts. It would just run normally like the MLB. They all wear masks while they play.”
Like Dao-Pick, he offers solutions to how practices would be held: “Keep the rules really strict. Require masks, maybe not while playing, but all the time when possible. Take temperatures and keep the restrictions really tight.”
But, unlike Dao-Pick who would be fine with just practice, Mendoza would rather not have the season altogether, if there would be no events. He states, “I’d want to practice for something. I’d rather hold off on practice in order to have practice coincide with my games. I’d rather wait.”
Even though sports take up a lot of athletes’ time, some have hobbies that are helping them cope while in quarantine. These hobbies keep them in shape and can serve as a replacement for their sport. Many of them also work out every day or as often as possible and train with what they have.
Elena David, a member of the basketball team, lists the hobbies she’s been doing during quarantine: “Music, painting,
online shopping, and writing.”
De Souza says, “Outside of my sport, I am learning how to skateboard, filming videos for my YouTube channel, and passing my school goals.”
Athletes have been quite upset over the push-back of their sport, but they understand it must be done. For now, they can focus on their schoolwork and other activities they might not have been able to do earlier and are waiting for more news on when it’s safe to get back to their teams and start practicing.
Featured Image (at the top of this page): The Summit Shasta track & field team at a meet. (Photo Credits: Ethan Pang)