Students speak out about fall sports

The year of 2020 was a year of many changes. On March 13, 2020, the whole world changed as Covid-19 quickly swept over every continent. As a result of this tragedy, many businesses shut down in order to adjust to COVID safely, and the world went into quarantine. Along with businesses shutting down, many things were forced to be rescheduled. Among those rescheduled events sat fall sports. Thousands of student athletes across the globe were forced to postpone their athletic plans until early 2021.

Due to all of the changes and postponed events, athletes have had trouble adjusting to the newly organized year. Many of them have had negative experiences while trying to settle in and deal with the reduced season. Junior Lydia Hill said, “My initial reaction was disappointment, followed by annoyance because I knew I didn’t really have self-discipline to work out on my own, so it was a bit like finding out that all my hard work had gone to waste.” Similarly to Hill, Hannah White (10) responded saying, “[The short season] gives us less time to prepare, and we do not get as many games to play as we normally would.” While there were many negative responses towards the reduced season, senior Kara Murphy spoke up on how she was thankful that she is able to even have anything scheduled. “I don’t really care that the season got delayed,” Murphy stated, “I am just happy that we are having a season.”

The Virginia High School League voted back in July to move the start date of fall sports to the early spring. Similar to other states, they also rescheduled college programs and leagues in order to combat COVID. The impact of closing down youth sports is something that students across the country have been frustrated about during the pandemic. Many of the athletes worry that not playing their senior season would impact their college opportunities.

In addition to being impacted directly, athlete’s teams are also being affected by the reduced season. Hill spoke on this saying, “I’d imagine that the teams are the same as ours in being challenged by the fact that we don’t actually know for certain we’ll even have a modified season that we’ve been promised.” Both White and Murphy spoke about the point that many of the athletes who participate in fall sports are still in the middle of winter sports and they are having to balance out both priorities.

Normally,  the fall sports season lasts for an estimated 2-3 months. This year, however, sports have been reduced to even lower, some teams even have under a month to compete. This deprives athletes of practice time and pushes them straight into a competition they may not be ready for.

Although there were many negative reactions towards the postponement of the season, multiple athletes used this time to get in consistent base training in order to enter the season with some sort of physical ability. “In the fall, we would have an open gym for volleyball, which we would use to do drills on passing, hitting, and serving. This has helped us this year to be in the swing of things and focused on our game,” White said. In addition to extra training, diet and sleep were important factors in staying fit for the upcoming season. Hill said, “I mostly used the extra time to get in some extra sleep.” Both athletes also added to the fact that with the season being so short, there is less time they can spend with their team, and less time to organize competitions well.

The fall season is normally set to begin in mid August and tends to cease in the months of October and November. However, due to the world’s conditions, the season was cancelled and this gave athletes an additional seven months to condition and prepare.

According to posted results, many teams are performing well, despite everything that is going on. “I’ve noticed that we have a great resilience as a whole, and we tend to have a “keep moving forward” mindset, which is necessary for cross country,” Hill said. She continued on to say that the majority of her team is doing well and they are continuing to put in a lot of effort. Similarly to Hill, White said, “We are performing really well together as a new team. There are some things we need to work on, which we are practicing very hard on, but I think this season is going to be great.”

In addition to physical condition, mental condition is equally important. Throughout sports, it is extremely common for athletes to want to quit when things become difficult. “I need to get out of the mindset of allowing myself to give up,” Hill said, “I don’t progress nearly as well with that mindset, which I’m currently in.” White added to her saying, “I need to work on getting into the mentality we are going to win, and not get down on myself if I mess up.” 

As teams are beginning to compete, coaches are having to notice and point out anything that catches their attention and needs improvement.  “Our coaches are very encouraging and can see what areas in the game we need some work on to make us a better team,” White said. Both Murphy and Hill spoke out about their coach and provided the details of what kinds of workouts their coach does in order to make them stronger. “He’s got good weekly workout plans for us that will definitely help us develop speed and endurance,” Hill said, “I’m sure he’ll do a great job encouraging us the way which will be hugely beneficial.”

With the season rolling around and teams gathering to compete, the best results will come down to those who spent the extra time conditioning both their body and mind and truly want the win.