Sports teams prepare for uncertain fall season

Matthew Flores, Staff Writer

In the heat of the summer, Alex Leroy (11) wakes up at 7 a.m., eats his usual oatmeal, and slips on his running shoes. As he heads towards Torrey Meadows Park, the morning air refreshes him, the breeze invigorating. Something about it excites him, and his worries lift away as he makes his way to his teammates.

This isn’t the normal cross country practice. Things are changing and so are the ways that athletes train.

With the COVID-19 virus still around, there has been a definite change in the way sports will be played and practiced. Many sports teams have been giving their all in preparing for a season they are not even sure will happen. Still, runners on the cross country team have been meeting for team runs since the Spring. Since the practices weren’t really arranged at first, the team would meet at Canyon Side Park in March. In June, organized practices began and the team met at Torrey Meadow Park Monday to Friday, with individual practice on the weekends.

Leroy has attended every practice throughout the summer despite all the global unrest.

“We didn’t have organized practices at first,” Leroy said. “Basically it was optional and not really required for the start of the season, but the ones [who] attended were the ones who wanted to get better and prepare for the season, as well as those who were really motivated.”

Leroy said that the team follows COVID-19 regulations, maintaining physical distance, and wearing masks when the team was together for group meetings and stretches.

“The process [for practice] has been the same since running isn’t a contact sport and we’re really lucky that we haven’t been required to change the way we practice, stay indoors or overall not work out together.”

The team is still practicing as hard during this longer-than-usual offseason as they would during a regular season.

“Since we might have a season in January, we want to prepare and do everything we need to get ready for it,” Leroy said.

Other sports teams have experienced their own challenges as well when it comes to practice since they are more contact-prone than cross country

The cheer team has had their challenges since cheer is a group sport, and adaptations have had to be made by the team, extending all the way to the tryout process, which coach Kenyatta Parker said were postponed for months.

“Tryouts are usually held in April before the school year, but were delayed until August,” Parker said. “Tryouts are also normally done in person, but athletes this year learned online material and submitted a tryout video for consideration.”

Even though the team can’t come in close contact or group up during practice, it doesn’t stop them from exercising and preparing for the season.

“No in-person practices have been scheduled yet,” Parker said. “Assignments and workouts are being sent out and are due via time-lapse video, which includes conditioning and learning new material.”

Events specific for cheer, have also taken a big hit, with training camps over the summer, summer practices, and cheer camp all being pushed back.

“With the schedule pushed back, our practices will be pushed back to this month. This means that camp will be canceled for the season.”

One indoor sport, volleyball, has not practiced at all. Volleyball’s close-quartered nature makes the sport a point of concern with the risk of spreading the virus being escalated.

Girls volleyball coach Nancy Ros, speculates several issues that the sport faces when the COVID-19 restrictions are taken into account. Communication within the sport deals with a lot of physical contact, which would not pass with these current restrictions.

“A big thing for volleyball is the camaraderie,” Ros said. “Not being able to celebrate in the traditional ways of high fives and such is an adjustment.”

Due to the health regulations, the comeback of this sport will have to be delayed until further notice. When volleyball does return, Ros emphasizes the team will remain cautious to keep the sport from being shut down.

“We will just need to get more creative with our celebrations and certain forms of touch that athletes and coaches sometimes use as part of the communication process.”

The comeback of sports is still shrouded in uncertainty, as no one seems to have a clear answer for how the coming seasons will look.

Until then, Westview’s coaches and staff will be keeping an eye on the situation, patiently waiting for a safe time to return.