How Athletes Adapted to COVID-19 Restrictions


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Sophia Thomas

Erbin Abarado

Badminton: Sophia Thomas (10)

I miss the excitement of having a game. Leaving your sixth period early, rushing to the locker room to change, and figuring out plans of who is going with who to the out game at a different school. You go early because you need to get to the school in time for the game, so everyone’s excited and rushing and it’s so fun. I remember at the frosh-soph tournament last year, freshmen and sophomores from the entire district, so schools from almost everywhere, came to one school and we had a tournament between all the freshmen and sophomores. And it was really noisy and chaotic, and there’s a lot of people so you had to be aware of when your game was. There were eight games going on at once in the gym, and it was really stressful, especially because it was my first year on the team, but it was also really fun. 

It was honestly a very friendly environment, where you could play around, but at the same time, you could also focus on improving yourself. 

This year, the season’s a lot shorter because all the sports are crammed into second semester. I believe our season is about five weeks long, and we only have practice on Mondays after school. There’ll be games on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We also canceled tournaments as of now, which is just a big bummer, because that’s what most people were looking forward to. Also, there’s only varsity for this year. So you either make it to varsity or you’re not on the team this year. 

I’m kind of anxious, but maybe anxious wouldn’t be the right word. I don’t know what to expect, and I also know that a lot of people aren’t going to try out this year, just because there’s no tournaments and the season is only five weeks long. I know a couple, maybe one or two of my friends who are still trying out. But I think the majority are not, because they think it’s so much better to do private training now, rather than be on the school team. Because at this point, the difference between the opportunities to train and compete through private training are much more than at school, because of our shorter season and having no tournaments.

So I don’t know what to expect, really, because we’re not having conditioning, we’re not having proper training, and we’re just training once a week. But hopefully, it’ll be fun for whoever gets into the team.

For people who are training even now, it’s hard, but despite so many challenges, they’re still going out there and making sure they’re in shape. I think that the fact that you’re doing it, shows so much about you, and I find that very admirable. Especially during such a time, because it’s not very easy to stay motivated. The fact that people I know on the team are still working out and putting themselves out there is pretty admirable.

Water Polo: Erbin Abarado (12)

The thing about me is that I just want to swim against other people. Before COVID, the competitive aspect was actually there, and you would physically be swimming against other schools. At an actual meet, there would be at least five or six other people you would be swimming up against from different schools. Being in that high pressure environment, adrenaline racing, and going against other people adds that little bit of variability to the race and excitement to meets. And everyone’s there and everyone’s watching, and your friends are on the other side of the lane cheering you on, like “GO, GO, GO!” and it’s glorious.  

Now, yeah, you’re swimming the same events, but you’re just swimming in your pool, and then they record your time and you’re compared against other schools that swim in their own pool.

Sure, you’re swimming the same events, but you’re only going against two other people on your team that you always go against, so it feels like it’s just another practice rather than an actual race. 

And so the competitive aspect isn’t there, the vibe just isn’t there. Honestly, the mentality this season has been, “I hope I do well, but if I don’t then it’s whatever.” It devalues the race, because you don’t perceive it as important anymore, you no longer perceive it as “I need to beat this person and I need to do this because it’s my pride. I don’t want to lose to this person.” And during COVID, practices are shorter now too. We don’t have a conditioning season, instead we had two week of swim conditioning, and then we started getting into meets, because the entire season is only six weeks this year. 

So people have definitely been swimming a lot less. And because they swim a lot less, they’re a lot slower. Personally, I’m far away from what I used to be, and I’m definitely not at my fastest. Most of it can be attributed to not being able to swim since quarantine started. There was a whole six month period that you couldn’t swim anywhere because all the pools were closed. And obviously that’s going to take effect. So if no one’s at their peak, does it really matter if you beat them in a race right now? No one’s mentally competitive right now.

But, I’m really looking forward to waterpolo right now. Because you can’t play water polo socially distanced. So you definitely have to accept the risks, but we can have close to a full fledged season this year and we can actually have real practices. With swimming, we implemented all these accommodations for COVID, which totally makes sense, because we’re trying to be as safe as possible, but it takes away from the competitiveness of a meet. With water polo, there’s no way to implement COVID accommodations in the water, so it’s just pure water polo against other teams, without compromising the competitive integrity of the sport. And so when you’re in the water, you can think for a moment, “Oh, this is how it used to be.”