Spring sports activities canceled over break due to COVID-19 pandemic

Arohi Bhattacharya and Emily Yun

Palo Alto High School spring sports teams were forced to cancel all practices and games for the season after the closing of all Santa Clara County public schools on March 13 to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Currently, all seasons are supposed to slowly resume after students return to school after April 10.

According to Paly’s Athletic Director Nelson Gifford, no practices or workouts will be permitted on Paly’s campus or any other venue for the three week closure period, per Santa Clara Valley Athletic League policy. The Paly workout room will remain closed until the reopening of school.

Additionally, all national competitions held in the Bay Area for various sports, including dance and lacrosse, are canceled, according to Palo Alto Unified School District Superintendent Don Austin.

Many coaches, including varsity badminton Coach Alex Adame, said they are unsure of how the rest of their team will proceed when they return.

“We are staying close to the situation and Athletic Director Gifford as the local situation develops,” Adame said.

According to Varsity Diving Coach Danny Dye, the uncertainty of the situation has caused distress to several coaches and athletes.

“[It is] quite frustrating, but I do understand the logic behind the decision,” Dye said. “The safety of the student is always first and foremost.”

The Palo Alto High School dance team practices one of their pieces at the 2019 United Spirit Association Nationals in Anaheim. The team planned to attend the 2020 USA Nationals until all spring sports activities were canceled to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. “Nationals is where all of our hard work during the entire season culminates, and it is also an amazing way to become even closer as a team,” sophomore Samantha Yamashita said. Photo: Olivia Ramberg-Gomez

Dance Coach Alanna Williamson expressed how disheartened she and her team are about the disruption the closure has caused to their season.

“This is obviously extremely devastating to hear,” Williamson said. “Nationals is something we look forward to for the entire year, starting in August when we begin our work on competition routines. … I am especially heartbroken for my seniors on the team who unknowingly competed in their last competition with us in February, and their last Nationals last spring.”

Samantha Yamashita, a sophomore on the dance team, voiced her discontentment of being unable to attend Nationals in Anaheim.

“As an athlete, I am disappointed that we are not going to Anaheim,” Yamashita said. “Nationals is where all of our hard work during the entire season culminates, and it is also an amazing way to become even closer as a team.”

The badminton team shares the same feeling of disappointment, according to sophomore Matthew Cow.

“It absolutely sucks,” Cow said. “I know a couple of friends that are extremely bummed out as the practices and competitions are canceled. Personally, I’m pretty sad because this is the first time I’ve done a school sport and I’ve really been enjoying playing.”

Senior captain Kate Milne was one of the few seniors on the Varsity swim team, who said she was shattered that her last spring season of high school ended so abruptly.

“I’m pretty sad that our season is being disrupted because of the virus, especially because it’s my senior season,” Milne said. “I was hoping to qualify for CCS in the next couple weeks but they’ve been canceled and so has official training.”

However, she credits her teammates in making the most out of the short season.

“I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished so far this year as a team, we’re undefeated and the girls bring such great energy every day,” Milne said. “I’m honored to have been their captain this year, and hope I will have more time with them after the quarantine is over before I graduate.”

Despite the unpredictability of the situation, teams are staying optimistic and making a plan for the rest of their season when they return.

“Assuming we are allowed to return after spring break, our hope is that we will still be able to hold our spring showcase for a small group under 100 of friends and family, as well as our banquet,” Williamson said. “We are trying to remain hopeful for a more positive and celebratory conclusion to an awesome year of hard work.”