A Players’ guide to playing through a pandemic

By Cody Allgor, Divy Bose, and Alana Amaya

In 2020, the simplicity of high school sports changed significantly. Athletes in all sports had to adjust due to the restrictions placed on them because of the Covid pandemic. Junior golfer Ally Madden managed to help her team win a Greater Miami Conference title and advance to the state tournament. Mason football offensive lineman earned all conference honors, and senior cross country runner Brendan Pitcher advanced to the state cross country meet. These outstanding fall sports athletes not only had to focus on their performance but also had to deal with the complicated protocols just to compete. Their success stories provides a helpful guide to athletes preparing to suit up this winter.

Ally Madden- Junior Golfer

Q: What was your experience as an athlete that went online midway through the season?

A: “When I went online, it went really smoothly. Everything was really easy to do and I feel like it really benefited me because I also had more time to practice. I was more free and I didn’t have to always be online at a certain time.”

Q: Is there any advice you would give winter athletes who are going through being playing during a pandemic for the first time?

A: “I would say just wear your mask, wash your hands and make sure you’re keeping distance from other people. It can be hard if you get quarantined since you miss a part of your season. I would definitely say to just do the safety protocols to make sure that you can participate in your season.”

Q: What were some of the biggest challenges that you personally faced throughout the season? How did you overcome those challenges?

A: “Something that I faced this year was that it was hard to hang out with my teammates, because we did have to socially distance. We couldn’t do as many fun activities, but we still have fun while we’re practicing. We came up with things we could do while social distancing, and I feel like we made it work this year despite the challenges that we faced.”

Q: What advice would you give others while this pandemic is happening?

A: “I would say even though COVID is going on, you can still do some of the things you used to do. The most important part is that you do them in a safer way.”

Paul Rodriguez- Senior Offensive Lineman

Q: How have you been dealing with quarantine emotionally? 

A: “It’s been tough trying to stay positive with the whole thing, it was a scare to everybody to not know what the future holds. I know a couple of my teammates got quarantined right before a game and it was just a really scary thing for everybody on the team.” 

Q: What would you tell other teams about how they should approach the season?

A: “You only have a certain amount of games left, so take everything you got and leave it all out there and every practice, every game, every play because you don’t know how many more games you’re going to have left. Lean on each other and lean on your other teammates. You’re not the only one’s going through it, it’s everyone.”

Q: What would you tell another player about choosing remote or in person over the other option? 

A: “I would recommend the players to go online, I was stressed every day coming to school and I just don’t want anyone to be unable to play the sport they love. Especially in the postseason, that would be terrible if players came in person then had to miss the playoff game.”

Q: What would you tell another player about the gratitude you have about even being able to have a season and still play during the pandemic? 

A: “So even though it sucks sometimes not having the black hole or fans, as many fans as we would like, we’re just lucky that we get to have the opportunity to play. I know I was just happy to run out that tunnel on Friday nights with the team.”

Brendan Pitcher- Senior Cross Country Runner

Q: What advice would you be able to give to other runners that look up to you and what you’ve accomplished?

A: “Your progress won’t always show immediately but you have to believe in yourself when you aren’t getting the results that you want. Know that your work will pay off and will show in your races to come. You don’t become a state runner-up or school record holder overnight, it’s day after day, year after year of hard work and believing in what your coaches are having you do.”

Q:  Have there been bigger challenges with COVID or social distancing? What’s changed?

A:  “In the spring, I missed out on my junior track season where I believe school records were going to be broken and state runs were going to be made. This fall once the cross country season started we really focused on keeping the groups small even though we have more kids on the team. We added a 6th training group for our team to help limit the numbers within the groups. We start our groups at different locations, wear masks when we aren’t training, and spread out when we are inside.”

Q: Would do anything differently or attack it differently since it’s your last year here at the high school?

A:  “Since it’s my last year of competing for Mason, I’ve taken each race as my last. Giving it my all for my team, school, community, and family. Coming home from the state meet with another strong finish would perfectly cap off my cross country career.”