Athletes vs the pandemic

On March 13 2020, the world went into a global lockdown, the economy went silent and sports became nonexistent. Athletes at all levels had to stop playing the game they loved, and lost almost all hope for a returning season of opportunities and success. Young athletes faced new challenges, they had to learn to stay mentally strong, had to continue to train and face the reality that they may never play the sport they loved again.

When the lockdown struck many high school athletes lost their spring sports season. This affected many lives, especially juniors and seniors who were using their last seasons to earn college scholarships. Sadly the loss of spring sports turned into a loss of many fall sports for not only school teams but club teams as well. An abundance of athletes all over the country began a new period in life and had to adjust to new ways, which for some athletes became much harder than others.

In one study performed by Dr. Timothy McGuine there was a drastic rise in many athletes becoming borderline depressed. Not to mention almost 65 % of athletes who took this survey developed some sort of anxiety, which should have been treated with some sort of medication. All this had to do with the simple fact that there were no exercise opportunities for the children. In fact Dr. McGuine said in the article “exercise is considered a powerful intervention against anxiety and depression.”

It is important to remember that although this study was done on athletes in Wisconsin, athletes worldwide were also suffering from the cancellation of sports and loss of opportunities to see their dreams come true of playing college sports. One last important key note from Dr. McGuine, mentions that if some sort of activity does not return then there could become “higher rates of substance abuse and lower graduation rates in the short term” and “in the long term, that could mean higher rates of addiction and difficulty forming meaningful relationships or building careers.”

Most people understand the importance of staying healthy and safe during this pandemic, but all too often a person's mental state can outperform their athletic ability.

The struggles and challenges are real, seasons have been lost, scholarships are no longer available and time cannot be replaced. How exactly are athletes still keeping hope and staying strong in a time of struggle?

Many athletes have found new ways to stay motivated and find new ways to earn those college scholarships. In fact, social media and internet recruiting pages have become the main way for athletes to present themselves. One of the most popular recruiting platforms that has skyrocketed with athletes during the pandemic has been NCSA, the Next College Student Athlete. This recruiting page is where athletes display highlight videos, transcripts, awards and any other important information that might be needed in their own personal recruitment process. Going along with NCSA, athletes are taking serious time to construct emails that will hopefully catch the college coaches eye and earn them a spot on the team. While some players are still being optimistic about the situation and pushing hard to get college coaches attention, there are a few other coaches who are setting the reality for athletes all over.

Menlo-Atherton High School football coach Adhir Ravipati said “at this point, if you’re 2020 and you don’t have any offers, you’re probably going to junior college.”

This coach does have a solid point. The way things are looking some sports might not get a 2020 season at all, and for senior athletes that means no chance at all to earn scholarships.

Despite what these coaches are saying some athletes are not giving up that dream so soon. San Joaquin Memorial defensive end Aric Eades is trying to stay positive during these times.

“I'm just trying to take it one day at a time and use the internet or other resources I’ve got to show off what I can do. I just keep trying to get better everyday so that once I can get back out on the field I’m the best I can possibly be and hopefully people will notice.”

For many athletes like Aric this is a common theme. It has truly been a season of lost opportunities, but athletes all over are holding hope and working hard to be that best athlete that they can when sports return.

The pandemic has struck down hard on the lives of athletes, but many took this as an opportunity to thrive. Athletes who have a passion to play are working hard and continue to strive for greatness, and hopefully those college coaches will appreciate and notice their hard work. Good luck to not only our very own talented Memorial athletes, but to the rest of the high school athletes everywhere!


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