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The Gradual Reopening of Youth Sports

In addition to education and social activities, Covid-19 has impacted the cherished extracurriculars of many high school athletes. As empty stadiums bring gloom on school campuses, students long to reconcile with their beloved sports. 

“During these strange times, I understand how it may be hard to get students back on campus – but I feel we should at least get sports going,” an anonymous MC student said in a poll conducted by the MC Sun. “A lot of students, including myself, rely on sports to give us a better opportunity for a college education.”

Fortunately for these student-athletes, sports are reappearing in a graduate manner. Certain activities – such as wrestling, volleyball, and basketball – are currently in progress. 

In order to keep athletes and their families safe, multiple modifications have been enforced in sporting activities.

MC wrestlers, for example, are wrestling in groups of less than ten people. Additionally, the team members undergo symptom and temperature checks before practice. Girls’ volleyball, for a period of time, practiced outdoors instead of using their typical indoor courts. Likewise, girls’ basketball no longer scrimmages during practice – instead, they  perform drills or lift weights. 

The numerous adjustments, however, have taken a toll on  the mindset of players. 

“For a while, the gyms were closed and we were not allowed to practice […] with a coach present,” sophomore and Varsity Girls’ Basketball player Shanaya Jahanian said. “It was very difficult to stay motivated at times.” 

On the contrary, multiple other athletes have felt greater consequences physically rather than mentally. 

“Staying in good shape and consistently playing together is crucial for the team, and Covid prevented us from practicing as much as we normally would,” sophomore and Varsity Girls’ Volleyball player Malia Miller said. 

The pandemic has constructed various boundaries regarding group activities, making it difficult for teams to train together. Covid-19 shut down fitness centers for a significant amount of time, which formed a serious challenge for athletes.

“Finding a studio to train at was hard,” sophomore Varsity wrestler Emery Holland said. 

Logo of The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) | Photo courtesy of PR Newswire

Along with alterations to their practices, sports players have also faced a change in CIF schedules. The 2020-21 calendar no longer includes a winter season, causing all high school sports to be meshed into the fall and spring. 

Additionally, sports such as water polo – which traditionally hosts a girls’ season in winter and boys’ season in fall – will combine both into one fall season. Although they will not compete alongside one another,  the boys and girls may share facilities and practice together.  MC volleyball, golf, and tennis will group together the boys and girls as well. 

Outside of school, athletes often pursue club sports. Similar to MC sports, clubs have also imposed safety requirements and adjusted their practices. 

“We have to wear a mask at all times, social distance as much as possible, use hand sanitizer before and after water breaks, and we cannot high five each other,” Miller, who plays for Wave Volleyball, said. “Besides that, I’m really happy that we can play – even if it means that we can’t play the same as we did before Covid.”

Overall, despite Covid-19 difficulties, sports are making a progressive comeback. Games for the sporting season have not begun yet, but new developments will occur amidst the fluctuating state of the virus. Undeterred by the troublesome obstacles created from safety mandates, athletes will be able to reunite with their activities for a unique 2020-2021 season. 

About Prisha Puntambekar

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Sophomore Prisha Puntambekar has enjoyed writing from a young age. Outside of journalism, she's vice president of Sundevils for Senior Citizens Club and loves to golf.

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