Spring sports athletes express disappointment in cancellations

Though disappointed, athletes understand importance of social distancing

By Nitya Kashyap and Karen Li

Seniors can no longer round out season

In a disappointing turn of events, spring sports athletes found their seasons cut short when FUHSD sent out an email on March 13 announcing the closure of schools across the district due to COVID-19. 

As a result, all school activities including athletics games and practices are cancelled from March 17 to April 3, according to the email. 

I personally have been waiting for senior night for four years now. But I don’t get to do that this year and it’s pretty sad.”

— Atharv Patil (12), swimming

While this is no doubt a sad event for all, seniors are heavily affected, as many of them have participated in their sport all four years of high school and have been looking forward to ending their journey with an uninterrupted final season.

Senior and swimmer Gloria Zhang said the prospect of not being able to have a Senior Night, an event used to recognize and honor the team’s seniors, is extremely disappointing.

“I’ve swam since my freshman year and I’ve [seen] three Senior Nights, [so] to possibly not be able to have one is really sad,” Zhang said in a phone interview.

However, beyond Senior Night, there are the subtler aspects of her last swim season she will be missing out on, Zhang said.

“[I’ll also miss] every dual meet that we had planned,” Zhang said. “It’s also everyday practices and being able to hang out with my friends and get faster at swimming, which is a pretty big part of my high school experience that’s now being cut out.”

Senior Harold Rucker III, who has been on the track and field team all four years, said the situation is unfortunate for all the work athletes have put in so far and everything they were still looking forward to for the rest of the season. 

“I feel bad for a lot of other seniors who are working hard to make improvements in this track season,” Rucker said in a phone interview. “Even if they weren’t a senior, it sucks to see it all go down the drain.”

Performance, recruitment opportunities hindered

Swimmer and senior Atharv Patil said this cancellation can affect the performance of all the athletes.

“A lot of us are going to be out of shape, or not going to be able to swim,” Patil said in a phone interview, “and it’s going to prevent us from getting faster and reaching the goals that we set in the beginning of the year.”

This unfortunate turn of events might not just affect an athlete’s high school career, Rucker said, but potentially their sports career beyond high school.

I’ve already come to terms with it. I mean, yeah, it sucks, but I guess it’s not like the main priority right now. It’s just all really unfortunate, but it’s out of our control.”

— Brandon Wei (12), tennis

“I understand that there’s a virus and people need to be safe, but at the same time, a lot of people were relying on this year to start getting recruited or finish getting recruited,” Rucker said. “And with all this going on, they really can’t showcase themselves the same way they’d normally be able to.”

Patil said he is especially disappointed because, now, he won’t know how far his team could have made it if they were able to see their season to its end.

“This team, more than ever, had a great chance of making state championships,” Patil said. “I think I speak for other seniors on the team by saying that this season was different because our team was a lot more united. It really sucks that we’re not able to swim [at] more meets and enjoy our senior season as much as other seniors were able to in past years.”

For gymnast and senior Sofia Farinas, the HHS gymnastics season occurs after club gymnastics, so this season was going to be her last time ever competing, since she is not continuing gymnastics in college. She has been on the varsity gymnastics team since freshman year and began club gymnastics when she was two years old. 

“I’m just really disappointed that I didn’t know that my gymnastics career was over,” Farinas said in a phone interview. “I definitely understand the precautions behind [the cancellations], but it’s really devastating, because I didn’t know that my last week was going to be my last week.”

Athletes ask for more consideration from administration

Farinas also said she believes before the situation escalated to affect Santa Clara County as a whole, the administration should have made more detailed considerations and taken each sport into account instead of cancelling all sports altogether.

“I was disappointed in our administration’s ability to make generalizations, because gymnastics, for example,  is a very individual sport [and] you can sanitize events between people that are competing [compared to] a contact sport,” Farinas said. “I think [they shouldn’t have made] a sweeping generalization for the safety of all sports, because not all sports have the same risk factors.”

I really like softball, and I’m so sad … because I don’t think I’m gonna be able to play in college, so I wanted to play this year and finish strong but sadly I wasn’t able to.”

— Hannah Royappa (12), softball

Patil said he agrees with these sentiments, saying swimming is a largely individual sport and seems comparatively low-risk for spreading the virus.

“The health of students is the top priority for the school itself, and I respect that decision, but [there are] sports that [are] non contact or that don’t require students to get [within] six feet of someone,” Patil said. “For swimming, the chlorine usually kills off all the bacteria or any viruses that other people usually have in the pool.”

Finding the positive in a pandemic

Senior Zachary Wang, who plays badminton, and senior Brandon Wei, who plays tennis, both said they are trying to look on the bright side of things. 

“It definitely doesn’t feel great that I won’t be able to finish my last season on the team, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be able to stop playing,” Wang said in a phone interview. “I can still play and enter tournaments on my own.”

Wei said he feels satisfied with his overall tennis experience and also holds onto hope that the season will continue after school reopens.

“I saw it coming, so the last week or two I’ve been appreciating the practices and games more but I still have hope that it will resume later on,” Wei said in a phone interview. “If it doesn’t, it was still a good run.”

The bigger picture

Ultimately, these seniors said while it is disappointing, they understand the necessity of taking these measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. 

“It’s bigger than any one of us and it’s also bigger than spring sports. It’s something that is impacting the world on a global scale,” Zhang said. “I think that it’s about being aware and being serious about the problem.”

The first thing is our safety, so as much as I’d love to be still running right now I understand. Our health comes first and even [though] people say it might be a small chance that people in our age group get it, I [don’t] think it’s still worth [it] for us to take that risk.”

— Harold Rucker III (12), track and field

Farinas said it is important to look at this virus from a community standpoint and to realize how everyone’s actions affect others in this global pandemic.

“[We] high schoolers are generally healthy people with pretty normal lives. It’s easy to imagine ourselves as pretty distant from the coronavirus and health issues in general,” Farinas said. “I think the issue of quarantining can teach us how to think about others that may be more at risk.” 

Rachel Payne, a senior on the diving team, said situations like this can be easily avoided if everybody does their part to stay healthy.

“I think if everybody just keeps themselves healthy [and] worried about themselves, then we won’t have to take such extreme measures like this in the future,” Payne said in a phone interview.

Out of this less than ideal situation, senior volleyball player Matthew Li said he realized a truth about life.

“Life is random, so you’ve really got to cherish what you have and don’t take it for granted,” Li said in a phone interview. “We all thought we would have a great senior season, but it just got taken away from us.”