Off-season practice pushed back to fall

Off-season practice pushed back to fall

SIX FEET APART: During the two-week period when some teams were allowed to practice on campus, the school worked to keep student-athletes and coaches safe by implementing many different social distancing measures, including putting stickers on the bleachers six feet apart and hosting all practices outside. Credit: Ethan Lachman/Chronicle

Once athletics shut down because of COVID-19, outside hitter Skyler Gerhardt ’22 adapted to play a completely different version of her sport. Instead of spending time on the hardwood, Gerhardt has turned to beach volleyball in order to practice as much as she can during these turbulent times.

“Over quarantine, all the players on the volleyball team have done weekly group Zoom workouts and I personally have been working with a private coach three times a week in the gym to stay fit,” Gerhardt said. “A lot of girls on our team, myself included, have also turned to beach volleyball training and [other]workouts, which has definitely been challenging and fun.”

Because of the ongoing pandemic, many student-athletes have not been given the opportunity to prepare over the summer. Fall athletes like wide receiver Alex Mogollon ’22 are especially dependent on summer preparation. He said he feels the loss, especially of “hell” week, a football team tradition where the team sleeps together in the gym for seven days straight. The experience is specifically designated for team bonding.

“It’s been difficult not being able to practice as much, but we’re looking forward to beginning again maybe later this year,” Mogollon said. “As far as hell week, it’s been super tough knowing that we might not have it this year. It’s such a great bonding experience as well as a way to build our team chemistry, which is super important because on the field we need to be able to trust each other in order to win.”

Additionally, wide receiver Mark Cho’22 said football, in particular, was greatly affected by the loss of summer preparation.

“I think football is unique because the sport itself is pretty aggressive and players can tend to be injured quite easily,” Cho said. “All the work we normally do over the summer is to ensure our players stay healthy for the season, but due to the pandemic, I am not sure how we can have a season without the many hours of repetitions necessary to make our team function. The possibility of not having a season is definitely weighing on all of us and making it more difficult to maintain focus as a team.”

Girls volleyball, another sport that normally occurs during the fall, also had to adjust its summer training because of COVID-19.

The volleyball team normally travels to Hawaii during August to compete in the Ann Kang Invitational tournament. However, due to the postponed season, the trip was canceled. Left side hitter Izzy Hyman ’22 said not being able to compete in Hawaii has affected the team’s ability to build chemistry.

“I’m really disappointed that we didn’t get to go to Hawaii this year because last year it was such fun and really good bonding for our team,” Hyman said. “We all made such good memories together on that trip.”

Alongside cross country, water polo, and basketball, football had the unique opportunity to train on campus for two weeks during the month of July, before California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a mandate shutting down the school and extracurricular activities like athletics. Mogollon said he felt grateful for the short period of time that the team was able to practice.

“It was really different, but I was glad that we still had the opportunity to actually work out in the weight room,” Mogollon said. “Before that, we had been working out from home and it was really boring, so being back in the weight room as a team felt really good.”

Mogollon said the team had many restrictions placed upon them to ensure player safety when they did their workouts.

“We would each have our own rack to work out at, which kept us distanced from each other,” Mogollon said. “We would have to each go up, one at a time, to get weights and had to stay away from each other. We ended each lift by spraying everything down with disinfectant and then cleaning it all. We also were temperature checked each day, and we wore masks during the whole workout. It was definitely very different but much better than our Zoom workouts that were taking place for most of the quarantine.”

With the ongoing pandemic, there is a possibility that sports competitions might not be held in the 2020-2021 school year. President Rick Commons detailed how sports could potentially return. This new hybrid approach to athletics is dependent upon an in-person return to campus. In an email sent by Athletic Director Terry Barnum on Aug. 17, the school updated their plan for athletics. Phase one for this new hybrid program will begin Aug. 24. All sports scheduled for the winter season that play outside will be able to begin practicing.

Soccer player Milo Kidd ’22 said he remains hopeful for an opportunity to play this year.

“For the upcoming season, I am not sure what is going to happen, but I remain optimistic that I will be able to play with my peers and that this year’s seniors will be able to showcase themselves and have a successful season,” Kidd said. “Ultimately, I feel terrible for our seniors who have worked so hard throughout the years to potentially be robbed of their final opportunity to play in a Wolverines uniform.”

Despite the changes brought about by the coronavirus, Gerhardt said she has stayed optimistic throughout the summer.

“We have been trying to stay positive with all the uncertainties,” Gerhardt said. “And [we] are obviously just really hoping we get a season this year.”

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