In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and West Coast wildfires, Irvington athletes must readjust to the unprecedented changes with their 2020 sports seasons. In particular, the Irvington cross country team faces countless challenges that now surround their Fall season.
Cross country training, typically running from June to November, was an integral aspect for the team’s development and bonding. David Thomson, the Irvington cross country coach, says, “Having cross country practice and seeing the team was truly the highlight of my day.” Unfortunately, given the pandemic, the season is being pushed back to start in December, and runners must train individually without the support of their friends or coaches. Ellie Branch (12), one of the cross country captains, describes, “Not being able to train with other people has been really hard, since it can be very tough to stay motivated.”
However, the changes in this season are not without benefits too. According to Ellie Branch, the fall season has always been extremely hectic, as cross country events overlapped with work as school started. Thus, not having daily practices and weekly meets have made this year’s back to school season less stressful. Coach Dave also says that this hiatus will allow athletes to really train harder and improve, as long as they find their personal motivation. To this, Branch imparts some words of encouragement: “Just keep training the best that you can. It’s really hard right now. Your workouts don’t have to be perfect. They don’t even have to be that hard, but try to get your runs in.”
Yet imagining what the season will actually look like will not be an easy task. Having practice with the whole team of over 60 runners is no longer possible, but it is tough to predict when conditions will be safe again. For now, Coach Dave reports that practices will hopefully be in-person again in the coming months, but strict restrictions and guidelines will dominate practices. He further explains, “With the current restrictions that are being put in place, I cannot have more than 10 people in one group at a time, and those 10 people have to be 6ft apart. And all of these are then on top of our normal requirements of supervision.” The bottom line is that the team for the 2020 season will not be the size it usually is. As community health is the first priority, Coach Dave describes that the first ever tryouts will have to be put in place to limit the number of athletes.
Despite being surrounded by unparalleled problems this season, Coach Dave says that he is optimistic about this year. He says, “My interactions with my athletes have been extremely positive. Everybody is itching to get out there, and I can’t wait to see everyone.”