Trojan Athletics and Covid-19


Photo by Teagan Coley

2021 graduate Cole Hamilton playing basketball mid-pandemic in a mask.

Covid-19 affected everyone. Student-athletes were particularly affected because their seasons were canceled or cut short, for seniors this was the end of high school sports. Students had to practice at home. When athletics started back there were many limitations, along with a huge lack of involvement.

“Our seasons were taken away,” said track and cross country coach James Caraway.

Many athletes couldn’t play or even practice during that time, which was harmful to them. I actually had a really tough time with this. When I returned to school at the end of my freshman year, I had to transition from middle school sports to high school sports, which was hard enough on its own. On top of that transition, I had just sat at home in front of a screen everyday for the previous few months. I wasn’t very coordinated, I gained weight, I couldn’t run very fast–I just wasn’t in great shape. I was missing out on valuable practice and experience that could have changed my entire season.

“I could’ve been better if I played during quarantine,” said senior basketball player Carson Pope. 

With so much time away from the sport, our ability to perform could have suffered. Pope didn’t let that stop him; he is an incredible player and even earned athlete of the month for January 2023.

Even when some sports started back, students were still doing online school. This brought adversity that students had never faced before. 

“You had a mask on, you couldn’t breathe,” said senior basketball player Morgan Bellamy.

Students had to wear disposable masks, even if the sport was outdoors. The masks restricted breathing and were easily broken. Athletes had to focus on more than just playing the game; the mask rules were strict and heavily enforced. I vividly remember wearing masks and trying to have wrestling practice. They would break five or six times a practice and would get drenched in sweat. It definitely affected my ability to practice and perform.

Students also had to worry about exposure to Covid. If someone got Covid, they had to be quarantined for two weeks, and if they were exposed to someone who had it, they had to be quarantined for a week.

Transportation was another problem. While athletics were at the school, most students were still remote.  

“Getting rides to practice was difficult,” said Caraway. “A lot of kids who participate in sports ride the bus, and if they can’t be here (school) they aren’t getting a way here (practice).”

Missing practices regularly led to a lot of problems. Students depended on school practices; without them it’s hard for students to improve and stay in shape. Students were at home now more than ever. With nothing but time, they had to find positive ways to spend it. 

“Some people would say it helped because people had more time at home to get the work in,” said senior lacrosse player Tyler Cameron. “It was beneficial to me because I was able to practice more on my own time.”

Cameron had a mostly positive outlook on quarantine; it gave him the time he needed to get better at his sport. He practiced his footwork, stick skills, etc., so that when it was time to play again he was prepared.

“It taught me to push myself to stay active,” said senior softball and volleyball player Makaylee Sanders.

She knew Covid would be a major obstacle, but she wasn’t going to let it stop her. She had to learn to be disciplined and make the best out of what she could control.

Many students were home for a long period of time. Without the ability to talk to others face to face, they lacked social opportunities and some developed increased social anxiety. Students were afraid to take steps out of their comfort zone and had trouble being a part of a team. Student-athletes already face tons of stress, and quarantine only added to that.

“It’s important for kids to be involved, more than ever before,” said wrestling coach Wesley Whitman. “They need to learn how to socialize again and be a part of something bigger than themselves.”

Quarantine was a terrible time for all of us. What is important is how we respond to these experiences and how we are going to move forward.

“No matter what your circumstances are, you should try to make the best of it,” said Cameron. “Don’t give up just because you’re in an uncomfortable situation.”