Saving the Seasons
Athletics are one of the most loved and treasured activities at our school. When the Board of Education (BOE) made the decision to have high school go remote for the first nine weeks, this decision cancelled fall sports. Athletes around the city were heartbroken, but fortunately, after lots of discussion, the BOE allowed sports to carry on, but with major restrictions.
Many sports thrive off of the crowd setting, but with the new rules athletes are going to have to adjust to playing without a crowd and maintaining a safe and healthy playing environment. All six fall sports including girls tennis, football, cross country, boys soccer, girls golf and volleyball each have their own obstacles to maneuver through and overcome.
Coming off an incredibly successful season from the 2019 year, the soccer team was very grateful to get their season back. With the Coronavirus restrictions the soccer team along with the other fall sports can only play the city league teams, which cuts their season short.
Abdullah Ahmed, sr., is a four-year varsity player and understood why they cancelled sports in the first place, but was elated when they brought it back.
“The soccer team means so much to me and I am really glad to have a senior season even if it is cut short,” Ahmed said.
All throughout the summer the soccer team was very good at following the guidelines of sanitation and social distancing, so the requirement of a mask and all the precautions were an easy adjustment.
“I feel like we have a very promising season ahead of us,” Ahmed said. “I wish we could have fans, but I understand why they're not allowed to be there. I just hope we can go undefeated for our COVID season.”
Just like the soccer team, the volleyball team took all the necessary precautions to keep the season alive through the summer, especially since volleyball is an indoor sport.
Doan Dinh, soph., is grateful that everyone was willing to make the necessary changes to the season because it made the shift so much better.
“Everyone did their part by wearing a mask, made sure we remained distant, thoroughly sanitized equipment, and stayed home if not feeling well,” Dinh said. “It showed how much we really cared for each other and how much we really wanted the season.”
The biggest difference and most difficult part of the COVID restrictions was the loss of fans and the energy that a crowd creates on game days. Volleyball is a sport that thrives off the energy created by everyone in the gym.
“Without the student section, friends, family, and faculty members, the energy is up to us to create,” Dinh said.
Stella Lovingier, sr., is one of two seniors on the tennis team this season. Tennis had very similar rules to soccer and volleyball on how their season will look. Lovingier is looking to play in college and so getting her season back was a relief.
“Recruiting has become a challenge for a lot of schools,” Lovingier said. “When sports were back on I was really excited because now I don’t have to try and do all of the college stuff completely on my own.”
Since the season got started late, the length of the season is much shorter and the acceleration of games per week was the biggest adjustment that the tennis team had to face. Even though they are still playing matches, Lovingier is missing her favorite part about the season.
“I don’t get to play in any tournaments which is a bummer because tournaments were always one of my favorite parts of playing and I always looked forward to them,” Lovingier said.
So far the tennis season is going well and as a senior, Lovingier is taking charge in helping the underclassmen have the best season they can. She says the changes made to the season didn’t affect her too much, she's just glad she's back and playing on the court.
Luke Clayton, sr., is a linemen on the football team and very glad to be back after the long summer of not being able to be in the weight room.
“We weren’t able to be in the weight room and get stronger as a team and with so many of us we had to stay out on the field to be distanced,” Clayton said.
Even with the limited amount of practice opportunities, the football team has gotten off to a strong start, winning against North High School 80-0.
Just like Lovingier, Clayton has had to step up as a senior and be a leader for the underclassmen.
“I’ve done my best to be a role model for my freshmen and sophomore linemen,” Clayton said. “Even though it was tough for them, I’ve seen good improvement from many.”
The cross country team’s season has changed quite a bit. Most of the meets they compete in are in surrounding areas of Wichita. Eva Mckinzie, jr., and Araziah Mendoza, jr., both agree that having only city meets has been the hardest adjustment.
Mckinzie is finding it difficult to manage the weird schedule of having online school all day and then going to school for practice, especially after not doing school for six months.
“I do think that having practice every day is a good thing,” Mckinzie said. “It allows me to have a break and do something active between school and homework.”
Mendoza and Mckinzie were very sad when sports first got cancelled due to all the training and miles that had been done over the summer months. There was still uncertainty of how the season was going to look when the BOE brought sports back, but were still grateful to run again.
“When they brought it back I was happy that I would be able to run with the cross country girls again because it is one of the best parts of my day,” Mendoza said.
Zoey Lee, sr., has been a golfer at East her entire high school career. Just like all the other sports, there are no spectators allowed on the courses, but that has not stopped Lee from trying to play her best.
Lee is looking to play golf at the collegiate level and so gaining the season back was very helpful for trying to make that happen.
“I was nervous at first when they first cancelled fall sports because I needed this season to better my scores for colleges to see, especially for potential scholarship opportunities,” Lee said.
So far Lee has not disappointed. She finished first at her recent golf tournament and East finished second as a team.
“So far the season has started off really well,” Lee said. “The other girls are learning really fast and it is just an overall fun environment.”