It’s a frigid Friday night, a home game for the Scarlets. Entering the East gym, you see the bright lights gleaming from the scoreboard, you can hear the crowd roaring, you can feel the tension and anxiousness of everyone in the auditorium. Basketballs dribbling on the wooden floor, shoes squeaking, kids chasing the ball, smiles on everyone’s face. This is what you would typically see during a basketball game. In 2021, things are significantly different. Crowds are smaller, you see coaches and fans wearing face masks… sports are different this year senior night doesn’t feel as special as it used to be. Being a busy student athlete during COVID-19 has been difficult.
It may look a little different for these seniors this year, but they make it work. Some sports were cancelled last year, but this year they came back and better. Most of these students are full time students, have part time jobs and have played sports on the side for years. They’ve got a lot on their plate and with a global pandemic it makes it even more stressful. How do they do it?
“I am a senior at East, and I have been playing for East for all four years. The goal I set for myself each year is to have a good season every year. While sports are fun, I also have a part time job. Being a busy student is a lot but for me I just put my mind to it and do it,” basketball player Berhane Mikele said.
Mikele has always been playing sports but he started a job to pay for bills, He has been working long hours and works weekends, he also has school and plans to not stop playing sports anytime soon.
“My advice I would give athletes that also have school and a job is to do what you want to do and achieve them, then repeat. Set new goals, keep working hard and you can do it. It may seem tiring at first, but you’ve got this. I don’t regret doing sports because of the best moments like creating new friendship and opening opportunities,” Mikele said.
If you want something, achieve it and work hard for it, you’ve got this.
“I am a senior at East high school. I love playing sports, in East I did swimming since I was a freshman. I was always busy with sports I was dedicated by staying late and practicing early and just always being focused,” swimmer Alicia Camarillo said.
This year was Camarillo’s last year in swimming, she was also stress with a lot of things such as school and a new learning environment, but she does not regret doing swimming all four years “What I miss this year was having a great senior night, COVID-19 took away my senior night. Crowds we’re also much smaller but the people who motivated me the most was my teammates and my coaches. My coaches push me to do my best and are so understanding. The key is to communicate with your coaches. They know you have other things going on and as long as you have a good relationship with your coaches it makes it ten times more fun.” Camarillo said.
For the most part coaches understand. They understand that we’re busy students they just want you to have fun.
“It Is really difficult to work, be a full-time student, and a student athlete. We encourage kids to work less during the season,” East coach swimmer Erinesa Lowe said.
Swimmers need a lot of rest to prepare themselves for their best at championships. Each year swimmers come back and are better.
“Life is all about balance, you must make sure you stay on top of things. Worry and stressing about things doesn’t help it is terrible for your mental health. It is all about time management and using that time wisely. Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. Some people accomplish great things in those 24 hours, others waste it. You don’t need to take naps and spend hours on social media. You focus on one thing at a time, you would be surprised of how much you can get done,” Head wrestling coach James Giboo said.
Coach Giboo has made positive major changes in wrestling; they were fortunate enough to win four out of five last conference titles.
“This is my last year in East high school. I have played track for East all four years. What motivates me and makes me stand out from the rest of my teammates is being the only Muslim girl on my team. My coaches motivate me, they push me hard and see potential in me,” track runner Hamdi Abdirahman said.
Abdirahman has been working during the pandemic, she also plans on continuing track and make her last season on the field her best season. She also plans on still running for track when she graduates high school “I have worked at Men’s Warehouse for a while, I also had to adapt to a new learning environment. My advice for people who want to do sports and have a job on the side with school going on is to stay focus in school. Work weekends until you are comfortable with extending your hours. Your job will always be there for you. High school is only a one-time thing. What I regret is not joining more sports on my free time. Pursue actives that interest you, you won’t regret it,” Abdirahman said.
Try out for that sport you’ve wanted to play. You won’t regret it.
“I like to tell the swimmers that you have your entire life to work, right now just enjoy being a kid. I don’t like to see teenagers growing up too fast, they only get to be a kid once, there is no going back,” Lowe said.
Coaches understand that we’re all busy students, they’re willing to work with anyone with a good attitude who wants to be better and gain valuable life skills.
“I am always looking for anyone interested in wrestling boys and girls. It is a sport that will teach your life lessons that you can take with you for the rest of your life. It is one of the few sports where size doesn’t matter… If you are interested in joining, just stop and see Coach Giboo to find out about off season training.” Giboo said