By Scarlett Beard
New York City, New York
In another season hindered by COVID-19, athletes are finding creative ways to stay fit and keep their proverbial “heads in the game.” My personal experience with athletic facilities shows that everyone is doing their best to keep student-athletes engaged and active. However, new concerns arise as temperatures decrease, new seasonal sports spring up, and the long-term effects of COVID-19 spread within morale, fitness, and social aspects.
Athletic directors, from high school sports to professional leagues, are getting creative with keeping the spirit and success of sports alive. Students and athletes are also more inventive than ever in the ways they seek to stay fit, healthy, and in touch with each other. There is a tremendous amount of planning and organizing that comes with team sports, even without COVID-19 running rampant. This has presented entire communities with challenges to their executive functioning and major disruption of their routines.
Every athlete has their own way of coping with our current environment. Some students take runs, others go for long walks or get creative with lifting when gym weights are not accessible. For example, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris stated in an interview with Former President Barack Obama that she “likes to do weights while she does cardio, but couldn't find any back in March.” Weights were sold out, so Harris improvised with “these liter water bottles that I filled, of course, with water to use them as hand weights.” People are doing what they can to maintain their routine, even when the alternatives are not preferable.
I can relate to Harris’s strategy personally. I have been doing home workouts, and, luckily, the volleyball club I participate in is available if I wear a mask. This is not the case for every school, but at Poly Prep, outdoor sports teams like soccer are able to play outside while social-distancing and wearing appropriate PPE. Teams are also going on group runs while maintaining six feet of distance.
One way I like to practice now without my normal equipment for volleyball is to set against walls in my house. While I much prefer having a net, and my family would greatly appreciate the peace and quiet that would bring for the household, I am doing what I need to to stay focused. I go on runs with my friends and take any opportunity to get out of the house safely.
It's not always smooth sailing, even with the extra effort and creative practice athletes are putting in. We are always taking precautions to prevent the spread of the virus, but what is most difficult is when even one player tests positive. I myself had to quarantine for fourteen days when I was exposed to someone who contracted COVID-19. This was inconvenient for me and meant I had to stay away from practice, which felt like letting my team down. Still, it is important in these moments we prioritize the health of everyone and take every necessary precaution.