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Paly athletes discuss effects of COVID-19 on sports

Determined to practice volleyball amid the shelter-in-place order, junior and City Beach 17 Black outside hitter Sophia Krugler passes the volleyball back and forth amongst her family in her backyard. 

Due to COVID-19, most sports have stopped all practices as well as canceled upcoming competitions until further notice. This includes the Colorado Crossroads, a qualifying event for volleyball nationals. 

“Overall, I was glad that (Colorado Crossroads) had been canceled because getting together thousands of girls in one room and having them play volleyball isn’t safe, not just for the players but also for the parents and families who come to watch,” Krugler said. “Volleyball tournaments are very crowded. It’s impossible to stay even one foot away from people at all times.” 

As someone who has been playing volleyball since fifth grade, Krugler said the halting of the volleyball season is strange and disappointing to her, especially since this could potentially be her last season of club volleyball. 

“I’m sure a lot of athletes can relate to how I am feeling right now,” Krugler said. “Volleyball is a huge part of my life, so to have it suddenly disappear for reasons out of my control is devastating.” 

For junior Ethan Gadekar, a kung-fu martial artist, his studio Studio Kicks has been completely shut down as a result of the nationwide quarantine. 

Although his coach hosts online classes through Zoom, Gadekar said it doesn’t feel the same as attending class in person. 

“The coach can’t really teach you as well, and you feel less connected to the community there,” Gadekar said. “In addition, not all students (have) a big enough space to practice weapons, so the online classes at home (make) it hard for students to learn what they’re (supposed) to learn.” 

Likewise to many athletes who have close bonds with their team, Gadekar said he misses going to kung-fu and seeing his friends. 

“They were pretty much my second family and not being able to go there anymore is really depressing,” Gadekar said. “I have such great memories from there and going there was kind of an escape from reality and without the actual classes, I feel really bored and lonely.” 

As many sports host national competitions in the summer, sophomore fencer Marissa Yeh said she is unsure of whether summer nationals will happen, and if it does, she said it will be difficult to regain the fitness and athletic ability she had prior to the halting of practices. 

Similar to most other sports, many fencing competitions leading up to nationals have been canceled, according to Yeh. 

“(United States Fencing Association) canceled a competition in Anaheim that I was looking forward to,” Yeh said. “I was hoping to see some of my friends from other places like Japan there.” 

As sports have played a large role in many students’ daily schedules, Yeh said that without fencing, she has a lot more free time. 

“It’s not necessarily a good thing because practice gives me some structure and motivation to work towards a goal,” Yeh said. “I also miss talking to my teammates.” 

For spring sports such as track and field, the season was just beginning when it was cut short by COVID-19. Junior Madeline Lohse said she trained for three months leading up to the track season. 

“Since I put in the effort of training (in the) offseason for so long, it was definitely depressing when I heard all the meets I was looking forward to were canceled as I would not be able to see if my times had improved or not,” Lohse said. 

According to Lohse, there are two meets during spring break — the Arcadia and Stanford Invitationals — which are great opportunities for athletes to be recruited as well as to watch some of the best high school track runners in the nation. 

“Fortunately, I was lucky to attend (the Arcadia Invitational) last year,” Lohse said. “However, this year I will definitely miss traveling with my teammates and watching some of the best athletes in the country compete at a highly competitive level.” 

However, for athletes hoping to be recruited for college, Lohse said their prospects decrease as a result of the season being cut short. 

Krugler said the COVID-19 situation has a detrimental impact on recruiting for both sides of the process.  

“For the girls, they can’t talk with coaches in person, and they can’t play or send in film,” Krugler said. “It’s a lot harder to get noticed when coaches can’t see you play at tournaments. For coaches, they can’t go to tournaments to see girls play.” 

The recruiting process is going to be more difficult and delayed since coaches have limited access to information on various athletes, but Krugler said she has confidence that coaches and colleges will do their best to make the process the easiest it can be for players. 

“At the end of the day, it is what it is,” Krugler said. “All that anyone can do right now is make the most of the situation.” 

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