The pack is back: some competitions, practices begin after yearlong hiatus

With the start of second semester and the consistent decrease in LA County COVID-19 cases, CHS sports have been slowly returning to the games and practices athletes have had to miss so much of this year. For multiple months, LA County was the epicenter of the pandemic, and reopening schools or sports teams was not a viable option. Now, with the decrease of cases in the county and the country as a whole, with vaccination rates on the rise, and with the announced return of Claremont schools next month, it has finally been deemed appropriate for sports teams to start practicing and competing.

Now that cases are under 14 per 100,000, all outdoor sports are permitted to play, but of course each sport has its own precautions it must take to keep the players safe. For close-contact sports like football and water polo, players have been getting COVID-19 tests on a weekly basis, and although the athletes are allowed to play as they normally would, for spectators there are stricter rules in place. Team coaches and anyone else watching the game from the sidelines or stands must have masks on and be socially distanced at all times. For games like tennis, any students who are not on the court in a match are required to have their masks on at all times: through warmups, conditioning, and drills. And although outdoor sports are not required to have testing, all players still have to get their temperature checked with a thermometer before beginning their activities.
Now that all outdoor sports are in the clear to play, several games and competitions have taken place, and more are planned throughout the month of March and are set to continue throughout the rest of the school year. Tennis, golf, swimming, track and field, and cross-country have all been allowed to play since February — however, cross-country, as a Season-One sport, was the only one of these that was actually able to start their season; the rest are Season-Two sports. At cross-country’s Ayala meet, the girls’ team won the dual meet and the title of league champions, and the boys’ team placed second. Then, at their Bonita High School meet, the girls’ team had finishers in first, second, third, fourth and then sixth place, and the boys’ team swept places one through six, a blowout win for Claremont. (Read more about cross-country’s season here.) The tennis team had its first in-person league match earlier this month. The girls first played on March 4, with a victory of 5-1. They played again on the 18th, winning 6-0. The boys’ team played on March 17, winning 6-0 as well. Girls’ soccer had their first games on Wednesday the 17th against Etiwanda High School. The freshman team won its game with a score of 3-2, junior varsity won 1-0, and the varsity team lost 0-2. The boys’ varsity team has a 1-0 record. In its first game of the season, football defeated Chino Hills High School, 28-0.

Although at the moment only outdoor sports are allowed to practice and compete, indoor sports will most likely be given the OK by LA County in the next couple of weeks, as long as players follow a list of restrictions. Currently, indoor sports practices demand frequent, almost everyday, testing. Because of this CHS is waiting for more information on how to safely practice these sports. However, there is a possibility that indoor athletes may not be able to compete this year at all, because for sports like volleyball, the season is approaching its end. By the time the teams may be approved to play and enter in games, the season could be long over.

While most athletes are ecstatic to be back and practicing the sports and activities that bring them joy, this year students are facing endless new challenges presented by the pandemic. Many sports are just barely getting started on their practices after being shut down all year, and are already diving into games and competitions.

“I heard that tennis was canceled for the whole year … so I kind of stopped practicing, because I had to focus on school,” freshman and varsity tennis player Martina Denigris said. “Then out of nowhere someone texted me saying that they were going to do tryouts. … The whole year I hadn’t been playing … so it was hard for me to get that all back in one or two weeks.”

The pandemic has brought uncertainty for everyone all year long. This uneasy feeling has not yet departed from everyday life. This has put many eager students in positions of stress.

“It’s hard cause it wasn’t just a month break, it was a pretty long time … and it [tennis practice] was the only time I could get out of the house,” Denigris said.

Many hope the return of in-person sports will bring peace. This will be a welcome relief for students struggling to cope this year without the getaway and endorphin release sports usually provide.