Athletes debate whether to rejoin sports after quitting due to COVID-19 break

Katie Maurer

After an extended hiatus, CHS student athletes face a life-altering dilemma: whether to continue the sport they love, or take the natural break to focus on academics.

Sophomore Ashlyn Higley was an avid swimmer prior to COVID-19. But when COVID-19 restrictions were lifted Higley said she decided to drop out of the sport.

“I quit because of number one, the morning practices,” Higley said. “I just could not make them, and the afternoon practices were at least two hours. I would go from 4 to 6:30, and then I would get home by 7, take a shower, it’s already 7:30, eat or make dinner, because sometimes I make dinner for my mom, so that’s like 8:30 or maybe 9. I didn’t start working until 9 o’clock at night, and with all the classes I was doing, especially this year since I’m taking an AP class, I didn’t want to have it.”

Higley also said her grades improved in her time away from swimming, which is another reason she decided to stop. 

“I did enjoy (swimming) for a while, but it just got to a point where it was too much. It was not worth it for me,” Higley said. She also said that many of her friends quit and she felt alone in the sport. “If the practices were like an hour when I had them, I would’ve kept going.” 

Sophomore Aissatou Diatta scores a try during a rugby game. Aissatou said she started playing rugby again because her brother played it and enjoyed it. (Submitted Photo)

Higley is not alone. According to a study conducted by The Aspen Institute, three out of 10 students said they did not want to return to the sport they played pre-pandemic.

Higley represented the trend that data isn’t completely accurate, at least not at this school. However, anecdotal evidence by rugby coach Kelly Romano indicated a different trend.

“(In) August of 2020, there were only eight players on the team,” Romano said via email. “This fall we had 42 registered players.”

Sophomore Aissatou Diatta’s experience similarly reflects Romano ’s experience. After quitting rugby in seventh grade due to COVID-19, Diatta said she wasn’t always sure she wanted to play the sport again.

“I just didn’t really know if I wanted to come back or not,” Diatta said. “My dad said I couldn’t not play a sport so I said, fine, I’ll play rugby.”

Diatta did quit after about three months of playing rugby as a seventh grader but she joined again next season during eighth grade and has played ever since. 

“(My dad) said I could choose a sport… and the reason I chose to come back to rugby was just after watching more of the sport and hearing my brother talk about how much he liked playing it for fun, I was like, ‘Well, I can try it one more time,’” Diatta said.

Ali Persinger

“I originally didn’t want to quit. It was only because of COVID that I quit, but I think it was mostly (that I didn’t want to come back),” Diatta added, “I hadn’t had enough time to really fall in love with the sport yet, so I didn’t know if it was worth coming back or not.” 

Diatta said while some students might have made the right decision for themselves by deciding to quit their sports, she doesn’t regret her decision to return to rugby. 

“I love rugby, it’s my favorite thing. It’s super fun. I love my teammates and my coach and it’s all around an amazing experience.”