Student athletes speak out about impacts, changes to fall sports due to COVID-19

Senior Katie Kuc practices on a golf course during quarantine with social distancing implemented. Although she had limited practice with her team, she said she mostly goes to golf courses to work by herself as well as work on her course management.

Senior Katie Kuc practices on a golf course during quarantine with social distancing implemented. Although she had limited practice with her team, she said she mostly goes to golf courses to work by herself as well as work on her course management.

Karolena Zhou

Ever since CHS closed in March due to COVID-19, sports have never been the same. As the new school year starts, fall sports are among those that will see new restrictions and requirements put forth to limit the spread of the virus. 

According to Athletics Director Jim Inskeep, the athletics department is still working through specifics since new information is being provided daily. Inskeep said there are four phases in the overall plan.

Phase 3 of the plan to continue athletics will start tomorrow and will include instructions on afterschool games and practices.

Junior Cassie Blaufuss practices her squats while at home during quarantine. She said although COVID-19 affected her team workouts and practices, she said she understands the safety implications for social distancing and at-home workouts.

“As of today, our plans for Phase 2 are to keep the 15-hour limit in place on campus for the next two weeks, which is a variation from our original plan,” Inskeep said via email. “Locker room access will be kept to football only at a 50% capacity and for equipment storage only. Processes will be in place for that usage. All other locker room use will not begin until the start of the school year.”

Even with the restrictions outlined in Phase 3, Inskeep said student athletes will practice on all scheduled days.

“Student athletes will practice on all days regardless of the cohort they are assigned to for the schedule,” Inskeep said. “(Both) virtual-only learners (and hybrid students) are now eligible to participate in extracurricular activities.”

While teams had less practices than normal this summer, quarantine has allowed Katie Kuc, women’s varsity golf player and senior, to spend more alone time on the course. 

She said because of that, she further developed her course management. For her, COVID-19 hasn’t affected her practice much other than her being unable to practice on the range for a couple weeks. Kuc said she was still able to play on the courses.

“COVID-19 has definitely had an effect in my practices, but not much,” Kuc said. “Almost all courses have been open to play, although some ranges have been closed; most ranges are open now, so I normally go out and practice on the range, then I will go play nine or 18 holes depending on how much time I have. Then, I finish with some short game. Some days, I will just practice and not play.”

On the other hand, Cassie Blaufuss, women’s volleyball player and junior, said COVID-19 has had a greater impact on her volleyball practice.

“(COVID-19) has made me unable to practice as any teamwork aspects of volleyball because I am practicing by myself,” Blaufuss said.

Even though Kuc and Blaufuss said quarantine is frustrating and hinders social interactions, they said they agree with its limitations.

“I dislike the change because it is difficult to do the same routine every day while being stuck at home; however, I understand that this change is necessary for my family’s health,” Blaufuss said.

During the summer, many students would participate in summer activities such as competing in tournaments or conditioning.

“Most sports would have been in typical summer activities starting June 1,” Inskeep said. “This would include summer tournaments, weightlifting and general skill development. Typically, most of our programs would have summer conditioning, weight training, team camps and competitions against other schools.”

Quarantine shut down the gyms and canceled the summer conditioning programs, leaving students to find ways to work out on their own, which is something Kuc’s trainer helped her with.

“My gym has been closed, so my trainer has sent workouts to me, so I can do them on my own,” Kuc said. “Right now, I do online workouts. I watch videos and do them on my own.”

Likewise, Blaufuss follows workout videos to exercise. She said COVID-19 has benefitted her by allowing her to focus on strength exercise, especially for her core. 

“I would prefer to be in the gym with a volleyball, as I feel like those are the skills that I am losing due to (the coronavirus),” Blaufuss said. “I am doing (fewer) workouts that are solely playing volleyball and more that will improve my overall strength as an athlete.

 “I now practice by spending about 20 minutes passing or setting against the wall, then I follow a workout video that is about 30 minutes long.”

Because of social distancing, the only time that Balufuss interacts with her team is through Zoom workouts.

While Kuc said she is bummed out by the inability to interact with teammates, the upcoming season makes her both excited and nervous.

“I am nervous for the upcoming season because we will all be behind in our skills, so it will probably be very sloppy at first,” Blaufuss said.

Like Blaufuss, Kuc said she is also excited for the upcoming season.

“I am excited for this season,” Kuc said. “I think we will have a strong team with freshmen coming in.”