The game must go on!

Gabrielle Parrish, Editor-in-chief

 

Liv-e to play: Liv Teves (11) juggles a soccer ball while wearing a mask after practicing at Starfire Sports in Tukwila. “Practices have definitely changed since we started back up again after COVID, but I’m glad to be back out on the field with my team,” teammate Kaitlyn Keyes (12) said. (Kaitlyn Keyes)

Part of being an athlete is learning how to adapt, how to persevere when the going gets tough, and how to keep looking forward rather than dwelling on the things you can’t change. 

Liberty might not be able to offer a fall sports season under the circumstances, but many club teams are demonstrating this sports-minded resilience and are making the necessary changes to keep their sport going.

The specifics of these changes can vary depending on the nature of the sport. For instance, non-contact sports such as rowing are having an easier time adjusting to social distancing. 

“Our boathouse is one of the few rowing teams that are functioning regularly with practices every day because we have enough single-person boats for everyone,” junior rower Jaimee Ortega said.

But while this might seem like a simple solution, there are still many other precautions to be taken.

“We’ve been separated into two-time groups. Within each, half is on land and half is on the water,” sophomore rower Tori Derwin said. “We’re required to wear masks unless we are separated and outside, and we have new cleaning procedures too.”

Some of these changes, like wearing face masks, are standard among all the sports; if the athlete isn’t participating in rigorous exercise, then they are expected to wear a face mask. At the very least, this means when they are arriving or leaving. 

Volleyball: “We can’t have everyone from the team play together because of the rule that only ten players can be in the gym. That means we can’t scrimmage or do any drills that involve more than 5 people because it’s five people per court. Overall it is definitely safer, so I don’t really mind.” ”

— Kaya Vong (11)

Another new policy that’s become uniform throughout club athletics is avoiding all physical contact. 

“You can’t tackle, and you have to stay six feet apart,” senior soccer player Aaron McClelland said.

This rule, while imperative to the athletes’ safety, has proven to be challenging for many sports that rely on physical contact. 

Your mind probably jumps to sports like football or wrestling—sports that are so dependent on physical contact that they are unable to practice without it. But physical contact is ingrained into so many other sports where even the participants might not have fully acknowledged its importance until it was gone. Now they are just having to make it work. 

“Cheerleading has changed dramatically now that you’re not able to stunt because you’re six feet apart,” senior competitive cheerleader Alexis Tyler said. “I hate not being able to get a spot because I don’t want to hurt myself trying something new.”

The fact that coaches are unable to assist with new skills is one of the many challenges that athletes and coaches are having to deal with. Liberty’s student-athletes, however, aren’t dismayed.

Rowing: “I’m super grateful that we are able to even have training during the pandemic. Several other teams are either completely shut down or only letting their top rowers practice—and that’s only a few days a week.” Jaimee Ortega (11)”

— Jaimee Ortega (11)

“These changes had to happen, or there would be no playing the sport,” McClelland said.

Athletes unanimously agree that they feel safer and that the new policies being implemented are effective.

“We haven’t had any new cases since the changes at the gym,” Tyler said.

So, while the new rules and policies that have been imposed since the quarantine began aren’t exactly ideal for sports teams, Liberty’s student-athletes have accepted this reality and are appreciative to have opportunities to keep doing their sport. 

As a school that values sportsmanship, Liberty has ample reason to be proud of its athletes, whose commitment to their sport and their teammates hasn’t changed in the face of trying times.