Student-athletes introduce sports into pandemic life

Swimmer+and+junior+Yarenni+Hernandez+practices+after+school+at+Las+Palmas+pool+on+Monday%2C+March+8.+Swim+and+dive+coach+Betty+Alexander+also+coaches+water+polo+during+a+typical+school+year.+

Lucia Rivera

Swimmer and junior Yarenni Hernandez practices after school at Las Palmas pool on Monday, March 8. Swim and dive coach Betty Alexander also coaches water polo during a typical school year.

The feeling of wind in one’s hair, the dirt getting kicked up by one’s feet, the adrenaline filling one’s body as they cross the finish line—this is what it’s like to be a runner.

The chilly water surrounding their body, their arms splitting the water, their feet propelling themselves forward—this is what it’s like to be a swimmer.

Due to the pandemic, however, student-athletes have had to alter their routines, as sports are now required to follow COVID-19 guidelines at Bonita Vista High (BVH). Furthermore, students who are set to play multiple sports during quarantine have expressed mixed feelings about how BVH is accommodating those who participate in multiple school sports.

I’m okay with [all sports occurring at the same time] because there are only three months left of school. I think it’s good that they’re trying to [give] everyone a chance to do a sport. I was excited when they announced that they would still be doing fall sports because my fear was that they [would] just do spring [sports],” cross country and track athlete and senior Sequoia Kriss said. 

Swimmer, water polo athlete and junior Yarenni Hernandez shared a similar sentiment. She mentioned that while athletes are lucky to be given the opportunity to play, the late seasonal duration of the sport is a negative.

“We [student athletes] started really late, so it’s cutting our seasons really short. There’s not a lot of room for you to improve right now,” Hernandez said.

We [student athletes] started really late, so it’s cutting our seasons really short.”

— Swimmer, water polo athlete and junior Yarenni Hernandez

This is not the only obstacle that these athletes faced. Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Tyler Arciaga expressed facing challenges as the main sports facilitator working to organize BVH’s student-athletes. 

“As of right now, there’s no transportation. There are no locker rooms. There’s nothing indoors. The district is not even allowing spectators, but that could change,” Arciaga said.

Arciaga believes that collaboration is key to solving these difficulties. He expressed that in order to transition between a normal sports routine and a modified one that follows strict social distancing guidelines, communication is essential.

“Having constant communication with coaches [is imperative]. I send out emails to parents and to the school,” Arciaga said. “I communicate with the coaches on a daily basis and do my best to get them [the necessary sports] equipment. [I also make sure we have] the thermometer for the health checks [and] sanitizer.”

For Kriss, a big issue was needing to balance cross country, work and student life. However, she has found methods to cope with this issue so that she is not as stressed. 

“I try to plan out my schedule [a] month in advance, and then work [based on] how many days I can work but still have enough days to go to practice,” Kriss said. “[I also try to accommodate for] when I have tests on certain days that I need to be in class. It’s difficult to try to balance everything and be part of every single thing but there are some days and weeks where I have to just accept the fact that I won’t be able to go to practice.” 

Hernandez hopes to get back into her daily routine. She stated that she misses being able to play water polo, which she’s so passionate about, and that not being able to socialize with her teammates has been saddening.

“[I] definitely [want to] get back into the rhythm of water polo because it was really draining before [quarantine], and I forgot [certain aspects of the sport]. [Getting] back into that rhythm [is my wish],” Hernandez said.

Arciaga expressed that it is acceptable if students are hesitant to do sports during the pandemic. However, he emphasized that health rules are being followed and that student-athletes should make the best decision for themselves. 

“The biggest thing is [that] kids that don’t feel that it’s safe for them. That’s okay. It’s a choice. I just wanted a choice for parents and kids to make the decisions [that’s] best for their families; [for] some of them it’s to play, some of them it’s not, either one is fine. But just having that choice really helps out. [It] helps out those kids that are yearning for any kind of contact,” Arciaga said.