Sports on hold makes athletes creative


Tage Mehta

What happens to athletes when sports get taken away? When practices are canceled and facilities are closed?  The virus has interfered with sports at all levels. The NBA, NHL, XFL, MLB, Tour De France, 2020 Olympics, PGA, Wimbledon, Champions League, and more have been postponed or canceled.  High school and college athletes across America have lost their senior seasons.  Through all of this, athletes have continued to do the best with the cards that they were dealt.

Professional athletes usually have advanced training facilities to allow them to stay at the top of their game.  Without proper training and equipment, it is hard to maintain the skill level and fitness needed at a professional level.  Teams are trying their best to provide a full gym experience in their players’ houses.  Colorado Rapids Goalkeeper Clint Irwin explained to ESPN, “The goalkeepers got a trap bar deadlift type of equipment with some type of plates.  I’ve been cranking out deadlifts, all day, every day.”

One of the other sports that has been significantly affected due to the virus is swimming.  Bethany Galat, a swimmer on the USA National Team, told USA Swimming, “I was at the Olympic Training Center when the news started coming in of all the cancellations. I was able to train there until March 17th when we suddenly had to book a flight the next day due to Colorado closing all pools and gyms. From March 17th-24th, I swam in four different pools, private and public. But once Texas issued an executive ‘stay at home order’ on March 24th, I’ve been out of the water.”

Like Galat, most swimmers don’t have access to a pool and definitely not one of the size they need.  They have had to shift their training fully to cardio and light strength training.  Language Arts Teacher Kimberly Swenson has two children who swim competitively.  She has seen her kids shift their training, and now they are “working out at home, biking and running.”

Undoubtedly, when athletes return to their sports, almost all sporting events will become less competitive.  WSA Soccer Coach and former Mexican National Team Player said, “Honestly, it is going to be hard.  When a professional wins a championship game and they take three weeks off, it takes another five or six weeks for them to get back to that same spot.  Even after winter training, there’s a gap from where we left off…we are going to be in great physical shape but it’s going to be rough for making good in-game decisions.  The best way to improve is to make decisions on the ball.”

Not everyone is seeing this quarantine in a negative light.  Although Edison Intermediate School (EIS) eighth grader Jackson Dowden isn’t able to play against anyone, he has determined that he can “use this time to work out way more than before.”

EIS Eighth grader Josh Caramagno has gotten creative.  He would usually be doing intense strength training to be in shape for football and lacrosse, but when the gyms closed, he found a new solution.  Using his backpack, lacrosse stick, books, and rocks, he created a small setup that he could lift weight with.  He also thinks that he is “more focused because of all the extra time.”

Coaches are also stepping up to the challenge.  Jimenez hosts zoom soccer practices three days a week where he works on fitness, agility, and technical skills with his players.  Westfield High School girls tennis coach Mr. Mathhew Varhley has routines for his players as well.  He said, “We’ve been sending out weekly training plans.  In these plans, we combine a balanced approach to conditioning, skill development, and mental preparation.  The players complete long-distance runs, footwork drills, shadow strokes in their backyard, and racquet drills in their driveway. They also view classic tennis matches on Youtube, listen to inspiring interviews about mental preparation, and read passages from a great book entitled Mind Gym.”

Through all of the changes people have found ways to adjust and are preparing for when things start to go back to normal. Hopefully, the athletes will come out of the pandemic at the top of their game.