COVID affecting the club seasons of many WJ athletes

Adriana Barni, Staff Writer

COVID has affected the club sports of many Walsh Jesuit students over the past year due to the many changes and even cancellations of events and practices.  Many athletes depend on their club season to help them improve for the following school season.

“I was so nervous to try out for volleyball,” said freshman Molly Sloan. “Since the club season was cancelled, I didn’t know if I had the skills to make the team.”

Molly has followed after her older sister, Avery, and started playing volleyball at a young age.  She is not sure if she wants to play in college, but believes COVID has blocked certain scouts and coaches from seeing her play and do well at tournaments.

“In the spring, we didn’t get a chance to qualify or attend nationals, which is a big deal in club,” said Molly. “This year, our practices have been postponed, so we won’t have as much time to practice before the first tournament, if it even happens.”

With similar worries about a normal season occurring, junior Dewey Black was ecstatic to find out his club practices for the Solon Stars Swim Club will be starting up again at the end of June since the last time he got in a pool was to compete in the championship back in March.

“We haven’t been in a pool for three months, so when we started practicing again, no one was in the same shape they were back in March,” said Dewey. “We had much time to get in shape, though, because we weren’t even allowed to compete until last month.”

While practicing required social distance protocols, the team’s practices were held just as often and just as long as they normally would be.  The swim club figured out a way to practice by keeping the swimmers socially distanced.

During quarantine, we had online classes over Zoom, which are pretty difficult, considering the limited space at home compared to the studio”

— Bella Ruffa

“We practice in a six lane by fifty-meter pool while everyone was spaced out in different areas of the pool,” explained Dewey. “Some people started at the walls and other people started in the middle of the pool.”

Dewey’s team was not the only one to change how their practices ran.  Senior Bella Ruffa dances at Revolutions Dance Academy, where the studio changed from a dance studio to the dancers’ basements.

“During quarantine, we had online classes over Zoom, which are pretty difficult, considering the limited space at home compared to the studio,” said Bella. “We are back in the studio now, but we have to follow all of the COVID protocols in the studio; so that means masks at all times, social distancing, no touching each other (even in dances), and temperature checks.”

While practices were held differently, so were the competitions. Bella’s studio only attended one competition before the rest were canceled.  Eventually, the competitions found a way for the studios to perform their numbers.

“Instead of having multiple studios at the venue at the same time, each studio has their own time slot to compete all of their numbers, and then they were judged,” explained Bella.  “Again, we had to follow all the protocols and could only take our masks off when we were onstage.”

Sophomore Ryan Piech had to follow similar protocols for his baseball season.  For instance, he had to be socially distanced on the field, and he had to wear a mask while he was in the dugout.

“Practices were kept to individual practice, as we were to expect to play well even when there weren’t many team practices,” said Ryan.

Ryan seemed not to care about the challenges of finding practice time.  Instead, he focused his worries on the tournaments they played this past summer.

“We were intending on having a big year of traveling for tournaments around the country,” said Ryan. “When corona came around and started to spread, many tournaments were cancelled, including a big qualifier down in Georgia that I was thrilled to play at.”