COVID-19’s Match Against 2021 Senior Athletes

Senior athletes reflect on their last high school season and how it was affected by COVID-19

Alexis Williams, Viewpoint Editor

     Sports have played a pivotal role in high school since the 19th century. 

     Due to COVID-19, the practice of sports within the school system has dramatically changed.          

     Athletes have had their season subject to change and have dealt with accommodations they are not used to. 

     More specifically, senior athletes have had to make the best of their last high school season, regardless of hardship.

     In the start of the season, it was hard to adapt to the new circumstances.

     “Basketball was something that was like a constant for me, so not having the stability of a season with my teammates was definitely anxiety inducing,” Mary Maxwell said.

     For the most part, athletes were able to adapt to the new setting. 

     “Now that we’re back in the pool, I’ve adapted to the new protocols and started focusing on preparing myself for college,” Peyton Talomie said.

     Though the circumstances are different, athletes say that it has helped them have a sense of normalcy.

     “If anything, being back in season has improved my mental health. Has gotten me back into a routine,” Kate Pohlmann said.

     Since pre-season training as a team was unpredictable, most athletes took matters into their own hands in order to keep progressing.

     “I’ve been training everyday, perfecting my kicking technique, lifting weights, stretching, and doing dynamic movements,” Andrew Piercy said.

     During the season, games and meets were modified to comply with CDC guidelines.

     “We did play games, they were mostly normal except for the bench situation, instead of having them lined up next to each other they were 6 feet apart,” Mary Maxwell said.

     Meets are different from out of water sports because athletes have to remove their mask.

    “We have had meets, but they’ve been split by gender and are extremely limited. Athletes must wear a mask at all times unless they are in the pool, and they must sit in assigned seating,” Peyton Talomie said.

    Not having a normal season has also affected being recruited to play for colleges, but some have been able to manage.

     “Luckily, I earned seven offers over the past six months or so. I committed to William and Mary just recently,” Andrew Piercy said.

     Others have chosen not to play in college, but still know people who have faced challenges.

     “ It hasn’t exactly affected college for me personally but I know it’s been harder for my friends to be recruited,” Mary Maxwell said. 

     Athletes took what they could get this season with excitement.

     “I would of course wish for a regular season but that wasn’t in the cards for this year so I am grateful we can play at all,” Kate Pohlmann said.

Although they are appreciative of what they were able to have this season, some athletes wish for what they were not able to have.

     “I wish the boys and girls could’ve been combined for senior night. I understand the reasons behind why it couldn’t happen, I just wish we had been able to do all our senior traditions,” Peyton Talomie said.

     Despite the risk of getting COVID-19, athletes believe that it is worth the risk.

     “I love football as much as anything else, it is 100% worth playing one last season with my high school buddies even though there may be a risk of getting the virus,” Andrew Piercy said.

     In unpredictable times, a sense of normalcy is comforting. No matter the risk, athletes crave to play the sport they love, not only because it is their passion, but because it provides a sense of community and structure in unprecedented times.