On March 13, the world as we knew it turned upside down. When schools across the nation shut down, sports and extracurriculars went down with them. So what did that mean for Berkeley High School (BHS) athletes? Over the summer, “pod” conditioning briefly resumed under new regulations. But that quickly came to a halt when only a few sports were allowed to continue for the fall season. Senior Leah Wildmann felt that the pod conditioning was really safe, and wishes it could resume. “We weren’t allowed to use any shared equipment, so we had to throw balls against the wall.” An avid softball and tennis player, Wildmann has been competing in both sports for the past three years. Her spring season got cut short, and the fall season has essentially disappeared. “It really sucks,” Wildmann says, especially as she is a senior, and this would be her last athletic year in high school. Sports play a prominent role in Wildmann’s life, and now with the cancellation, she has been trying to find other ways to fill up her time. She took on baking at the beginning of quarantine, but hasn’t been doing it much since school started. As far as sports, Wildmann has found that it’s much harder to have self-motivation to work out on your own.
Not only did high school athletics provide exercise for teenagers, it also created a sense of purpose. The absence of sports has in turn created an absence of structure and socialization. Many have been keeping in touch with their friends and doing online workouts, but it just isn’t the same. BHS athletes are now experiencing an identity reevaluation. Wildmann explains, “Sports is a huge part of my identity, so even though it hasn’t changed my identity, it has impacted it because I do not have sports right now.”
Lucy Candler, a BHS freshman, is also experiencing a similar situation. Sports are a big part of her life, and upon entering high school, she has been especially impacted by the new circumstances. She had looked forward to meeting new people in high school through sports, and is disappointed that that opportunity has been taken away. From a young age, Candler played softball and has continued with it for the past several years, participating on both recreational and competitive teams. Throughout the years, she has taken up various sports, and has stuck with volleyball and crew in addition to softball. Over the summer, she too practiced with the BHS softball team under the new regulations. But when the fall season never started, her time was mostly occupied by schoolwork. Before the pandemic, her days were fully packed with sports commitments. Sports were a big part of her life, and she has had to adjust to the new times. With the majority of her sports cancelled, she is now doing workouts over Zoom and socially distanced softball practices with her friends. Over the past six months, she, like many teen athletes, has had to revisit what it means to be an athlete, and how her athleticism fits into the current circumstances.