BVH athletes turn to club sports amid COVID-19 restrictions


Provided by Paola Martinez

BVH varsity swimmer and senior Paola Martinez (left) and her teammates amuse themselves in the middle of swimming practice. Martinez hopes that when the pandemic resides, she will be able to officially practice with the BVH varsity swim team.

Yealin Lee, Opinion Editor

On March 13 Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD) announced the closure of Bonita Vista High (BVH) along with other schools within the district. Lockers were closed, equipment was put away and silence echoed from the fields. When this news was released, all BVH sports were cancelled for the safety of students. Student athletes were sent home and were not able to practice their sports until regulations allowed them to do so. As school sports have yet to be allowed for BVH, many student athletes have turned to their club sports as an alternative.

The discontinuation of practice at BVH for athletes was “definitely a hard hit,” according to varsity swimmer and senior Paola Martinez. She expressed how the closure of pools for five to six months was hard for her and that she needed to find different methods to keep herself active during quarantine.

“At the beginning [of quarantine] I was only trying to keep active by going on walks [and] doing some home exercises. It’s hard to not lose the feeling of the water,” Martinez said.

For Martinez, not being able to practice swimming led her to lose her athletic condition. When beaches were reopened she used this opportunity to gain her strength back.

“Luckily, the first thing that we [used as] a resource was the ocean since that opened up first. [My family and I] were going swimming, but just to get back the [stamina] again, it was definitely a struggle,” Martinez said.

According to varsity soccer player and junior Jorge Colon, junior and senior year are the most important for student athletes. Even though he had doubts in the beginning on returning to practice for his club, he did not want to miss college scouting season.

“I am still playing because I am a junior and I do want to get a scholarship for college. Playing right now is very important because college coaches want to come see you play. Even though it is a little restricted, they could still pick up things that they like about you,” Colon said.

For Martinez, the thought of parting with her sport does not settle well with her. She communicated how she uses swimming as therapy to help with her mental health. Thus, when her swim club reopened, she decided to return.

“Swimming is also just something that I love to do. I cannot live without it, so being able to practice, especially in the pandemic, is nice,” Martinez said.

For varsity water polo player and junior Sylvanna Olivas’ club, Southern Waterpolo, there are social distancing protocols that have to be followed to ensure all team members are safe while practicing. Although it has been an adjustment, Olivas stated that being able to go back to practice is like going back to school; she is able to socialize with her friends and know how they are doing, so she doesn’t mind the guidelines. Olivas also explained that contact between the teammates increased as time progressed, but there are still limitations.

“When we get there we always have to wear our masks. We used to just swim. We could not be close to one another, and we always had to be six feet apart. Then we started to pass with our own ball. Now we can do contact water polo. It’s mostly the same except when you get there you have to put your bags six feet apart and can’t really use [or change in] the restroom,” Olivas said.

BVH varsity swimmer and senior Paola Martinez and her swim teammates get ready for practice. Martinez enjoys socializing with them despite the contact limitations. (Provided by Paola Martinez)

In contrast, Colon’s club limits contact between the teammates, but soccer does not have as much hand-to-hand contact, so he believes it has not been hard to adjust. However, there have still been other precautions taken and the usual routines have changed.

“Before practice starts we have to all be wearing our masks and enter and exit [at] a specific part of the park. Obviously, we also have to do social distancing before and after practice. Drills and [warmups] are also different because we want to keep [each other] six feet apart and be as safe as possible,” Colon said.

In addition to new protocols, Colon has stated that he does not feel as close to his teammates as before the pandemic and hopes their friendship strengthens. Before the pandemic, his team was able to travel to Florida which developed a lot of team bonding. 

“I believe that pre-pandemic [practice] was a little bit better for the team, but during the pandemic we [still] had meetings virtually and we are still [working to get closer to one another]. Although before the pandemic, we were much closer,” Colon said.

Compared to Colon, however, Martinez revealed that her swim teammates have been the only people she is able to interact with. She says the pandemic made her feel closer to her teammates and grow their relationship.

Due to the pandemic, Martinez was only able to see her family on a daily basis, so she was overwhelmed with excitement to go back to practice with her friends. At the same time, she is respecting the protocols so she can continue to practice and socialize.

“There’s such a strong support system within our team. [They] are the people that I know I can trust and it’s a good sense of a strong community we have,” Martinez said.

Olivas, Martinez and Colon all hope to be able to practice for BVH soon. Until then, they are going to keep following COVID-19 guidelines and continue to practice for their specific club sports.

“It was very hard for a while but now, once you’ve been [practicing] for a while, it becomes easier and things seem to get better. Highschool season obviously is going to be missed if it does not happen,” Olivas said.