Athletes adjust to summer, fall practice limitations

September 17, 2020 — by Kavita Sundaram

The boys water polo team practices in the pool while social distancing. 

For every sports team on campus, finding a way to continue practicing over the summer and fall has been a challenge. From wearing masks to avoiding contact aspects of their respective sports, players and coaches have had to adapt to major changes. 

Some sports teams such as water polo began in-person practices on Sept. 8. Previously, teams only met to work on conditioning and strength training or held practices on Zoom.  

Throughout in-person practices, teams have had to find ways to abide by social distancing rules.

The girls’ basketball team had in-person practices over the summer, but is now returning strictly to Zoom practices. These online practices entail stretching, warmups, drills and body workouts. 

While practicing a sport online may seem painful and tedious, some athletes were able to look on the brighter side of the situation. 

“For me, the Zoom practices were really convenient because I just logged on and worked out,” said junior Amarangana Tyagi, who plays on the girls’ basketball team.

Over the summer, the boys’ water polo team held practices limited to 13 players and required them to wear masks when entering and exiting the pool. Players were also restricted to practicing swimming, leg drills and shooting — exercises that don’t involve contact. While the team wasn’t able to have normal practices, these changes enabled them to improve on different aspects of the sport.

“We mainly focused on getting back into shape, so we’ll be faster and have more endurance than other teams [when the season starts again],” said junior Marcus Kuo, an attacker on the team.

Despite the positives, Kuo also acknowledged downsides to online practices — for many athletes, COVID-19 meant not being able to socialize with and meet new members of the team. While many teams did organize Zoom bonding sessions, it has been harder to get to know each other online. 

Additionally, hosting workouts on Zoom sometimes resulted in timing issues, technical glitches and other limitations that prevented many sports teams from having productive practices.

Teams that usually compete in summer leagues and camps, including the basketball and football teams, were also unable to do so this year. Instead of playing in their usual summer activities, they focused their time on drills, head coach Tim Lugo said.

Although teams weren’t able to compete or practice in every aspect of the sport, summer practices still gave students a social aspect to look forward to. In fact, coaches did their best to make practices as fun as possible despite the limitations in place.

“This summer had nothing to do with sports,” Lugo said. “It was all about getting our students back on campus and giving them something that felt normal in their lives.”

Even with the many adaptations sports have undergone over the past few months, they continue to be a healthy outlet for student athletes. Being able to get together and practice, no matter the restrictions, is something that athletes and coaches say they will heavily value.

“Starting practices again was bigger than the sport,” Lugo said. “It was about helping young people deal with a pandemic that has changed the way we all live our lives.”




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