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Lynbrook sports teams adjust to COVID precautions By sharlene Chen

Masks, social distancing, hand sanitizer and a COVID-19 symptom form — these are just some of the few things student athletes have dealt with daily after coming back on campus for sports. The first sports season of the year started on Feb. 1 instead of in August due to the pandemic, and only certain sports have been allowed to compete and practice. Key competitions such as the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League Finals and Central Coast Section Playoffs have been canceled across all sports. Continue reading to learn about what the different sports are doing now.

Girls' Tennis:

“I expected lots of food, fun, carpooling and bonding time,” varsity tennis player Hillary Chang said.

Photo by Sharlene Chen

In comparison with previous years, tennis matches have been reduced and moved up to earlier times, so athletes have to miss more of their school classes. Players stick to the sides of the court and make sure to use only their own tennis balls, keeping masks on at all times. With the sports season accelerated, athletes no longer have time to plan for many team bonding events, such as the classic Secret Sister event, in which players give food and gifts to another player anonymously before every match. Naturally, eating together is no longer allowed as well, whereas before, the tennis team often had parties and ate at restaurants together.

Boys' Soccer

“I miss the scrimmages and playing in close contact with my teammates,” varsity soccer player Christopher Li said.

Photo by Sharlene Chen

Soccer has only recently begun to have practices and conditioning, with the first games scheduled for mid to late March. No close range activities, such as scrimmaging, are allowed, so much of the practice the athletes do is not as engaging as before. As a season two sport, soccer has a bit of an overlap with the season one sports, so many multi-sport athletes have lost the chance to play both sports and must choose, lowering the overall number of athletes.

Cross Country

“I miss the feeling of large races with many other schools and close competition,” cross country athlete Patricia Chang said.

Photo by Malcolm Slaney

Cross country was one of the earliest sports allowed to begin competing again, but the size of the team has reduced drastically, from almost 200 athletes last year to around 50, as many athletes had concerns about the pandemic. As a result, races are much smaller, with only two schools running at a time, and athletes are split into waves of around 20 and start running a few minutes apart. Most of the racing courses have been shortened, are flat and take place at schools instead of the usual long, hilly courses at parks. Typically, the team has a pasta feed the day before every race in which all the athletes fill themselves with carbohydrates to prepare for harder running the next day.

Swimming

“I expected visiting other schools for meets and not having to wear masks or socially distance,” swimmer Isabelle Chan said.

Photo by Sharlene Chen

This year, due to the limited number of athletes, the district has only chosen to heat a few of the pools, so two schools share one pool. As the swim team shares the pool with Cupertino High School’s team, half of the team practices at 6:15 a.m., while the other half practices in the afternoon. Meets are virtual, so the competing schools record times separately then compare them online. Swimmers must wear masks on deck and stick to opposite ends of the lanes in the pool if there is more than one swimmer per lane.

Football

“I miss having the locker room where the team builds its chemistry,” quarterback of the varsity team Lucas Liang said.

Photo by Sharlene Chen

For football this season, players wear masks underneath their helmets and stay apart when waiting on the sidelines. Games have been proceeding as usual, but there are no longer any team dinners. The season’s late start took away the summer the athletes typically used to condition and prepare for the fall season, but they are doing the best they can now. Almost all of the team chose to play football despite pandemic concerns.

Athletic Trainer

“I miss having 20 students in my room at any given time, having fun and letting loose, and seeing everyone active and reaching their goals,” athletic trainer Katie Newbolt said.

Newbolt also had to make many adjustments to her usual duties due to the abnormal sports season. For one, instead of the hands-on approach she usually takes to treat athletes’ injuries, she now video calls players on Zoom and explains to them how to recover from their injuries. She purchased an online 3D model of the human body to replace the diagrams in her room so she could better demonstrate to athletes what muscles they needed to stretch. Newbolt is also in charge of the COVID-19 symptom form, so she checks it to make sure it is being filled out properly and that no one feels ill. During sports practices and competitions, she still drives around in a golf cart and checks in with coaches and players, in case of injury or emergencies. This season, many players have suffered various injuries due to a long period of little to no exercise followed by a sudden increase in exercise, so Newbolt expects her workload to grow once all the sports start.

Athletic Director

“Seeing players participate in their sport, we look like a normal high school in the afternoon except for all the masks— it's awesome,” athletic director Jennifer Griffin said.

During this season, Griffin has worked extensively with all the coaches to coordinate the start of the season, solving issues like who uses the different fields and turf when. At the beginning of the swim season, the athletic department could not find a coach, so Griffin trained the athletes herself until a replacement could be found. However, she believes all the effort is worth it since players now get a chance to play the sport they love.

Although this sports season was an unconventional one, most athletes are simply thankful for the chance to compete with their team and glad they were able to have a sports season to compete in and see their friends again. Most players trust the precautions taken against the pandemic and the staff to handle everything well.

Created By
Sharlene Chen
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Credits:

Sharlene Chen, Malcolm Slaney