- Timothy Meneses ’21. This is a digitally exclusive article for the Quad that is part of last week’s HeartBeat Issue 8 news section. Image from Unsplash.com
Sports have always been a monumental aspect of the culture in Sacred Heart. In this pandemic, it has sometimes felt that a part of our community has been missing due to the ongoing absence of athletics. With the few remaining months left to countdown to, is there still hope for SHP sports? On February 19th, Governor Gavin Newsom lifted restrictions allowing athletes to resume participating in sports in light of San Mateo County transitioning to the red tier everyone has been waiting for.
Mr. Frank Rodriguez, Assistant Principal of Athletics, sent out a thorough message to the SHP community the Monday before Ski Week regarding the condition and future of sports. Mr. Bret Simon, Sacred Heart Schools All-Schools Director of Athletics provided a follow-up confirmation of Sacred Heart permitting sports as well as some answers to FAQs. CPHD has categorized sports into different COVID-19 tiers according to how well participants are able to physically distance and the sports respective environment. Once San Mateo County reaches a sports tier, practices and games will take place. Mr. Rodriguez is confident “that all purple tier sports will be played and [has] high hopes for the red tier sports to get off the ground.” As far as the orange and yellow tiers go, Mr. Rodriguez said that they “may be a bit more challenging but I still remain optimistic that we’ll get those programs in as well.” For full specifics, students and parents can refer to Mr. Rodriguez’s and Mr. Simon’s email.
COVID-19 has had a direct result on the impact of close contact sports such as baseball, volleyball, basketball, football, lacrosse, and soccer, all of which have been deemed unsafe according to county guidelines. As a result, many student-athletes have been affected by this barrier between them and their ability to play the sports they love. “We have all been working hard to achieve our dreams of playing at the next level, however colleges have not been able to see our progress or growth as a result of the pandemic. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to play now, but it would have [been] easier and more effective if it were to have been in the fall,” says Varsity football quarterback Teddy Purcell ‘21. The pandemic has barred athletes from being able to acquire film from games to better be able to get recruited. Teddy also says that the pandemic has had an impact on school spirit. “In high school, students tend to rally around sports teams and most notably that sport is football. Whether in rivalry games, school rallies, or normal students sections, I think a lot of our students do enjoy sharing pride in our team’s success. While not being at school has definitely affected our community, the inability to play sports so far has as well,” he adds.
Sports that have been categorized in the purple tier such as Cross Country have already begun to train on campus at the start of February. These athletes have already begun to feel the effects of what sports truly present to those who partake in them. Varsity Girls Cross Country runner Luci Lambert ‘21 says that “because of the pandemic, my team and I have become much closer. We rely on each other for motivation, encouragement, and support. Even in the pandemic, we have seen personal records set and a surge in mental and physical strength. Without these challenges, we could not grow and develop like we have.” Athletes have become more grateful for this opportunity to play the sports they love especially since it requires a lot of effort to make it possible in a pandemic. The absence of sports has affected seniors trying to enjoy their last year of high school sports and compete. Varsity Cross Country runner Austin Jamias ‘21 says that it is unfortunate that “the season [was] delayed because it doesn’t seem like the normal camaraderie is there. Everyone is obviously trying their best, but it isn’t the same being able to give high fives after hard workouts, or going above and beyond in the weight room. I was really looking forward to this year too because it’s my senior year, but there’s nothing I really can do besides enjoy it while it lasts.”
No doubt, the loss of sports since the pandemic started has affected the community aspect of SHP, but the last few months of the semester will provide an opportunity for growth and hope. “We have missed out on those community-building activities that sports provide,” says Mr. Tony Martinelli, SHP boys Athletic Director. However, with the hopeful news of SHP allowing sports to slowly make their return, many are anticipating a great comeback from this pandemic. Coach Martinelli believes the “return of Gator Nation will be stronger than ever.” With cooperation between the county and school community, sports at SHP can finally establish their presence back on campus.