With wind ripping across his face as he soars down steep trails that traverse some of California’s most beautiful terrain, senior Alex Selwyn primes his focus on the road in front of him while his surroundings become a blur.
For Selwyn, the thrill of speeding through and discovering different corners of the Bay Area prompted him to pick up a bike and hit the roads for what seemed like the first time in a while during the Covid-19 quarantine. Soon, Selwyn said he found biking was a part of his daily quarantine routine.
Selwyn is one of many Paly students who turned to a new sport during quarantine. Ranging from golfing to surfing, students have found sports outside their comfort zone to help them keep busy and have continued these sports even as society begins to slowly reopen.
Before the start of quarantine in March, Selwyn said he had been on three long-distance bike rides in his life. For him, training full time on the cross-country and track time was time-consuming enough; he said he didn’t have time to even think about going on bike rides.
However, things changed when school cancellations gave him more free time. Biking, he said, offered a way to escape his house during quarantine and now he uses biking as a way to immerse himself in nature.
Selwyn went from biking only a handful of times to biking to all the beaches between San Francisco and Santa Cruz along Highway 1, to the Santa Cruz mountains, Big Basin, and everywhere in between.
“When the quarantine started, and my track season was canceled, I started to ride a lot more often, like at first two to three times per week, sometimes more, sometimes less,” Selwyn said. “Obviously the amount I rode varied from week to week — there were some weeks where I was doing over 300 miles a week and others where I would only hit around 50 miles or less.”
He said another benefit of biking during quarantine is the knowledge he gained about his community. Selwyn said he learned more about the environment and was introduced to a new age demographic of friends by going on daily bike rides.
“The age demographic for biking is a lot older, and so I’ve been able to meet an entirely new community of people through biking who I would have otherwise rarely interacted with,” Selwyn said. “I started doing these rides every Thursday at noon, and I met a lot of fast, older guys in their 30s and 40s. And it was really cool to talk with them and learn about their life experiences and just connect through a shared love of biking.”
Selwyn said running and biking are similar in many aspects, though. Both take immense mental and physical discipline to be able to push your body to certain limits.
“Even though the experiences are different, I think they’re complimentary — you get certain things from running that you can’t get from biking and vice versa,” Selwyn said. “And I think that’s the real beauty of it.”
Senior Andie Tetzlaff said she had always been drawn to skateboarding, but being a two-sport varsity athlete consumed most of her free time and pulled her away from taking her skateboard out of the garage and skateboarding around the block.
In March, when her first lacrosse game was canceled due to the novel coronavirus, Tetzlaff said she decided she had time to try something she always wanted to do.
“Before quarantine, I actually never skateboarded,” Tetzlaff said. “I knew how to ride my longboard, but I mainly took up skateboarding to try and learn the cool tricks, like ollies and shuvits. Since quarantine started in March, I’ve been trying to practice skateboarding at least a couple times a week.”
Tetzlaff said her friends decided this was something they could do together.
“I like to go out with my friend, Sarah, and we used to go a lot during March and April,” Tetzlaff said. “I’ve definitely improved my overall riding ability. I’m more comfortable with my balance and speed, and I’ve learned some of the basic tricks, like the ollie and pop shuvit.”
Tetzlaff said she misses her team sports but has chosen to stay optimistic and use skateboarding as a way to exercise physically and mentally.Even a bit of exercise helps her stay positive, she said.
“Lacrosse was a great outlet for me, and I’ve started seeing how skateboarding overlaps with that as well,” Tetzlaff said.
For senior Austin Harrison, who played golf even before the start of quarantine, the extra time during the school closure allowed him to continue practicing.
“Before quarantine, I was playing daily,” Harrison said. “When quarantine started, I stopped playing altogether for a few months to stay safe. Recently I’ve been trying to take advantage of extra flexibility in my schedule and going to practice relatively frequently.”
Driving ranges and golf courses were one of the first sports facilities to reopen in the Bay Area since golf is naturally socially distanced.
“I’ve started playing golf more often recently because I’ve had more opportunities without in-person schooling,” Harrison said. “I think more people turned to golf during quarantine because it’s a relatively safe and fun activity to pass the time.”
Senior Sophia Krugler heard her calling towards tennis all quarantine long.
Krugler used to play volleyball daily, barely touching a tennis racket before COVID-19 struck. However, her volleyball practices stopped with the start of quarantine as it became increasingly difficult to practice the sport while staying socially distant from her teammates.
Krugler said the necessity for physical activity prompted her to turn to tennis during the quarantine, which was one of the only sports people could play during the school shut down since it inherently follows social distancing guidelines.
“And then once quarantine started, and I didn’t have any physical activity, and I sort of realized that I needed that,” Krugler said. “So I started going to play tennis every once in a while with some people, like my friends and also my sisters, and we just stayed socially distant the whole time. And it’s a lot easier to do that with tennis than with volleyball.”
Krugler decided to stick with the tennis and said she found herself trying to play it more because of the benefits to her mental health.
“I feel like it’s not only exercise. I think I didn’t realize how important it is just to my mood,” Krugler said. “Not even just like how in shape I am but just how happy I am really requires me to be exercising.”
With quarantine stopping her from seeing her friends, Krugler said she quickly learned tennis was a good way for her to exercise both physically and mentally while being able to see her friends and others while maintaining a distance.
Krugler also said she recalled moments she would often arrive at the Rinconada tennis courts only to discover all the tennis courts were taken, noting the increase in the amount of people playing as we got deeper into quarantine.
“A few times when I go to the Rinconada courts, there’s like two sets of courts open, but they do generally fill up because it makes sense that people are playing more tennis now because it’s one of those sports where you can socially distance,” Krugler said.
The way Krugler sees it, quarantine should be looked at as a silver lining when it comes to certain aspects.
“I think people are just really branching out from their normal interests,” Krugler said. “And then on top of that, the need for social interaction and exercise with sports canceled and school canceled is just so high right now that I think that is what is drawing a lot of people towards sports they can do with their friends while social distancing.”