How the COVID-19 Pandemic has Affected Pinewood Alumni Athletes BY BRANDON GE

Photos courtesy of Pinewood Smugmug

Ever since lockdown, the Pinewood athletics program has changed drastically. It went from cheerful group huddles and high fives to everyone six feet apart and in their own personal bubbles. Now in college, Pinewood alumni athletes have faced similar issues. But how have Pinewood alumni athletes been affected by the pandemic?

Hannah Jump ‘19

Stanford University accepted class of 2019 alumna Hannah Jump to play women’s basketball. Now a sophomore, her first year of basketball was significantly different than her second year due to the pandemic. Since basketball is a sport involving physical contact, players are more exposed to the risks of contracting the disease. Therefore, Jump's team has been extremely cautious with the situation. Jump and her team are tested eight to nine times per week.

The virus has also been impacting the social structure of the team.

“We stay on campus and workout/play in a so-called bubble. We don’t mix with anyone outside of our team,” Jump said.

Now, even though the team practices together, they do not get the luxury of hanging out with each other as usual.

“We have had to sacrifice a lot of social time we would usually spend together as we can’t hang out as a team to limit high risk exposure if someone did happen to test positive,” Jump said.

Jump is satisfied with how the team and staff have adapted to the pandemic, saying that the team has done a great job distancing themselves and wearing their masks at all times.

Liam Smith ‘20

Football involves just as much if not more physical contact as basketball. Class of 2020 alumnus Liam Smith was accepted to the University of Puget Sound to play football. The Puget Sound football team had originally received grim news. They were told that they would not be allowed to practice and train in the fall, and that the season would be moved to the spring of 2021. In September, however, they were notified that the team would be allowed to move on campus and have five weeks of practice.

According to Smith, the coaches have helped the team realize how to properly address the situation with the pandemic. The coaches made it clear that playing with an attitude that does not view the pandemic seriously enough would not be acceptable.

“Our coaches helped us make sure we looked at . . . [how] the COVID situation prevents us from playing with a ‘so what’ attitude,” Smith said.

Smith’s football team seems to be cautious with their procedures to ensure the safety of the players. They have split the team up by positions to limit exposure. Players also have to wear a mask under their helmet while playing. Also, in a further attempt to limit the spread, the gyms were closed, so the team had to make their own weights.

“At the beginning of summer, many members of our team had to create their own weights with cement or other weighted objects so that they could still lift even with the gyms closed,” Smith said.

Megan Chou ‘20

Even though golf is a no-contact sport, that does not mean that it does not get disrupted. 2020 graduate Megan Chou plays golf for Southern Methodist University. But that was quickly cut short due to the pandemic. The season was postponed, and so the coaches could no longer require athletes to practice. But Chou’s team made the best of the situation and saw it as an opportunity to drive themselves to become better golfers.

“Because of [the season being cancelled], we had to step up and it became our responsibility to push ourselves [and] each other,” Chou said.

Not only has their will to improve been amplified, the SMU golf team also grew closer as friends rather than just teammates.

“My team and I would constantly play inter squad matches and push ourselves to become better. And because we didn’t have any tournaments we grew a lot closer as individuals [rather] than just as teammates,” Chou said.