The typical high school campus is home to a variety of students, all who have a passion in something special. Student athletes hold a special place on every campus, because they have the responsibility of attending their classes, going to long hours of practice right after school, and finishing the night off with unwanted homework. This process has proven to be difficult, yet crucial in building important life skills such as teamwork, time management, and the art of competition. Surely, it must be exhausting to read headline after headline about another hundred cases, a new vaccine, or even a real anecdote from experience. However, it is fascinating to discover how the virus affects athletes, and specifically those in high school. These four years are perhaps the most crucial in one’s life, and key to developing the major parts of the adult brain. They are when young adults distinguish their interests and passions, sort between friend groups, and set up the rest of their lives. Student athletes are committed and love what they do, so Covid-19 struck them down without warning. I interviewed a few of Orange Lutheran’s athletes regarding this topic, and they had a lot to say.

University of San Diego baseball commit, Justin Decriscio, described the changes perfectly. He explained how practices have been working, and how the team now trains “about the same amount as before Covid,” but obviously “following the guidelines so that everyone can stay safe while still doing what we love.” The OLu baseball team has been the school’s pride and joy for years, and have won numerous championships. The coaching staff “truly want the best for us on and off the field,” says Decriscio, and “they are able to help us understand that everyone is going through this together.” When asked about the new training environment, he stated that there are “smaller groups” and that the teams “temperatures get taken before we do anything.” Even the “baseballs are sanitized,” explains Decriscio. Justin Decriscio has big things ahead of him, and as much as a Covid-impacted senior season is a disappointment, he is content because “being a part of Olu baseball is really something special.”

Another one of Orange Lutheran’s most prestigious student athletes is Natalie Rodriguez. She is a junior at the top of her class, and a varsity tennis player. Tennis is a fortunate sport because “players can easily socially distance on the court,” permitting a safe practice environment. Rodriguez further explains how her training schedule has dropped from eight to ten hours, to five to seven with modifications. Athletes know that this is a significant decrease in practice time, yet Natalie makes sure to prioritize the quality of training over the quantity. As she continues into another successful season, she wishes to “keep a positive attitude,” and “have some fun while on the court!”. If you can draw one thing from Natalie Rodriguez that is crucial for pushing through this season of uncertainty, it is that “there is really no point in doing something if you don’t enjoy it.” 

Senior lacrosse star, Brooklyn Anthony, had a lot to say regarding her training during the pandemic. She has so many talents, is involved in ASB and lacrosse, and still manages to keep an amazing GPA. Anthony explains that the Orange Lutheran lacrosse team trained two hours everyday pre-covid, and now condition with masks, have hour long practices, and participate in “minimal stick work.” Although it is not ideal to not be able to make contact with each other in a contact sport, “which can be very awkward when trying to play defense.” the team has come together and brought their passion to life. Anthony is extremely grateful for her coach, Ms. Kyte, who “fought for us to get practice times and keep the team active and engaged.” Having supportive coaches is one of Orange Lutheran’s greatest assets, and it has been especially encouraging through such a time as this. Her closing thoughts include how as one of the founding teammates, she wants to “make sure that [her] team remains a family.” I have no doubts that Brooklyn will leave a lasting legacy on the lacrosse team, and OLu athletics. 

Hockey must have many fans and players conflicted because it is an indoor sport, players technically have masks, and it involves a large amount of physical contact. I asked junior hockey player, Caden Fehr, about how the team manages to stay on top of the league during the pandemic, and he gave me some insight. Fehr stated that the training hours have dropped from “about twelve hours to about nine.” Thanks to the functionality of masks, the team has been able to practice on ice, which was not a big change considering their typical gear. Orange Lutheran’s ice hockey team received the title of state champions in 2020, but their nationals opportunity was cut short when the virus grew in severity. Fehr explains that the team is back with vengeance, and are ready to “snag another state and natty title.” 

From Turkey to America, Yigit Arcan continues to display the respectable qualities of a student athlete. Arcan has a serious passion for basketball, and continues to leave everything on the court in order to reach success. He explains how basketball players are required to “wear masks and sanitize balls,” but their training schedule still consists of two hour practices every day. The basketball team is like a family inside and out of school, which is evident in Arcan’s description of the boys. Even with a global pandemic in full control of relationships, “the team is closer than ever because they value practice in and out of school now.” His individual goal is to play college basketball, and thanks to OLu athletics, he is on the right track!

Now that facilities are closed, training is limited, and contact is prohibited, athletes’ game-day nerves have turned into anxiety of lack of progress, and a yearning to be back on a court, field, rink, or the water. Student-athletes especially have been denied their chances to relax and take out energy doing what they love, making school much more difficult. Thanks to Orange Lutheran Athletic’s intense focus on mental health, their students have had higher success rates in school, and have shown firsthand that covid training is still possible, and better than ever. 

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