Students weigh safety concerns over passion to play

Story by Zoe Schlaak
Sports Associate Editor

Illustration by Nicholas Forman
Staff Illustrator

Public high schools, like SPHS, adapted to outdoor, distance training in order to follow protocols, but due to L.A.’s surge of cases, all practices have been postponed. Numerous SPHS athletes normally split time between high school athletics and an elite sports club. Like everything else, these sports clubs shut down at the beginning of lockdown but in recent months have begun opening with protocols to ensure safety of their athletes.

Returning to in-person practice presents its own set of conflicts — the desire to continue playing their favored sport and the danger of exposing themselves to coronavirus. This often leaves students with a difficult choice between continuing their passion or prioritizing their safety. Along with the health risks, athletes are also faced with different training circumstances that could affect their athletic development and their possible future in that sport.

For outdoor clubs, like soccer, many have capitalized off of Zoom and held virtual practices to keep their athletes in shape during lockdown periods.

“My coach started communicating with us more and we started having three Zoom practices that we did in our backyard every week and a workout he sent us,” SPHS junior and L.A. Surf Club athlete Sadie Abelson said.

Now the L.A. Surf Club holds in-person practices with strict protocols. The club requires temperature checks before every practice and masks are kept on throughout the entirety of play. Bags are also lined up six feet apart to prevent contact when players rest or get a drink of water. Their coach also manages possible symptoms through a scheduling app that requires daily health checks.

Senior Anthony Felix currently plays club at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center and his club also shut down completely until mid-August. The athletes have begun training and need to wait outside in distanced bubbles to get their temperature checked before entering the facility. In the pool, only three people are allowed in each swimming lane.

“So when you think about it, when you are swimming in a lane with three people like that, you are never going to touch the other person because you are continuously swimming,” Felix said. “We have been doing a really good job making sure everyone stays safe and follows protocol.”

Volleyball clubs, like San Gabriel Elite Volleyball Club, are currently training indoors while following regulations. Some of the precautions include no visitors allowed inside the gyms and to ensure social distancing there are six foot markers placed on the floors.

“We haven’t been able to play other people and other teams and I’d say considering COVID I’m super lucky to play under any circumstances. Although it is a bummer that we can’t play normally because of COVID. I’m super happy that I get to get out of the house and see my friends and get some exercise,” freshman volleyball athlete Helena Foord said.

Although many athletes continue to train with their club, some no longer feel comfortable, especially for sport that require indoor use.

“I wouldn’t feel comfortable joining back club right now, my club in particular,” junior club volleyball athlete Samantha Molina said.

“I saw when they posted a picture day, it was large groups of girls together, like whole teams together…I have only seen one or two people this past quarantine, maybe a total of three people, so I’m not very comfortable going to facilities.”

Molina’s sports club continues to train indoors and despite their precautionary measures to ensure athletes safety, there have been confirmed positive cases from athletes within her club and she feels that it would be very dangerous to risk infection considering her social circumstances at the moment.

“I would feel awful giving [coronavirus] to my family,” Molina said. “I also work at Teamorrow too so if I worked without knowing that I had it, I would have spread it to all my coworkers, and not to mention the public I serve all the time. ”

SPHS facilities will remain closed until at least Tuesday, Feb. 2, while sports clubs continue training.

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