Summer Practices for PR Sports

Summer+Practices+for+PR+Sports

By Amber Wright, Co-Editor-in-Chief

NOTE: The interviews of athletes for this piece took place before the mask mandate went into effect in Colorado on July 16. Practices are likely formatted a bit differently now as a result of the mandate, but the practices described in this article took place during the beginning of the summer of 2020.

District 38 set up summer practices for most sports starting on June 1, 2020. While the district was able to instate summer practices as a local decision, the question of whether or not PRHS will have regular seasons for sports can only be answered by CHSAA (Colorado High School Activities Association). CHSAA will decide and release guidelines as to what exactly sports and extracurriculars will look like for this coming school year.

Boy’s Tennis

The boy’s tennis team last year at PR. Picture courtesy of Ethan Michon (11), who is the person on the bottom right of the photo.

Ethan Michon (11) has been on the PRHS varsity tennis team since his freshman year, and he has been playing tennis for about five years now. For Michon, tennis is the perfect way to stay active and make lasting friends.

“Playing with a team brings ups and downs, but I absolutely love the team dynamic and the characters that each player brings onto the court,” said Michon. “We go from casual friends to life-long family whenever we get out and play together.”

Prior to tryouts, athletes on the PR varsity tennis team attend summer camps to practice. The two camp sessions, with one in June and one in July, both involve practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays. “Thankfully, this year’s camps have stayed, for the most part, on the same schedule as every other summer,” said Michon.

All PRHS sports offering summer practices are required to follow safety guidelines that are determined by state and local governing bodies. Tennis players have not had trouble adhering to recommendations of social distancing due to tennis being a generally spaced-out sport. Players are required to wear masks when within six feet of each other, and sanitize their hands often.

In response to safety concerns during practices, Michon said, “In the current environment at the PR tennis courts, I am not concerned about my possible exposure to others; a lot of the players are honest and will stay home if they feel ill. The precautions that have been put into place also make me feel safe.”

Athletes on the tennis team are strongly encouraged to remain at home if they experience any symptoms. All players also signed a specialized COVID-19 form regarding summer practices. Michon said the benefits of summer practices outweigh the risks because “with the current safety precautions in place, I believe that the likelihood of contracting COVID-19  is quite low.”

Michon is grateful that practices have been allowed so far because they not only allow the team to bond and learn each other’s techniques, but practices also serve as a way to cope through physical activity. Throughout quarantine, many teens have felt stressed and most have been relatively inactive, so practices alleviate these issues.

“While sitting at home is a great deal for us teens, not moving around has a tendency to negatively affect our bodies. Staying active keeps us healthy and happy, and the continuation of the summer camps has helped me with that,” said Michon.

Michon believes that if CHSAA chooses to have sports seasons, tennis will not look too different from previous seasons, with the only changes being masks, social distancing, and the frequent use of hand sanitizer.

Ethan Michon’s entire family plays tennis, and they have continued playing throughout quarantine. Though his parents were reluctant to allow Michon to attend practices at first, they have allowed him to get out and hit since the end of May.

“I am very grateful for summer practices, especially this year. They keep me sane, get me out and playing, and most importantly, get me hitting with good teammates and novel newcomers,” said Michon.

Cheerleading

The PRHS Cheer team during a summer practice this year. Picture courtesy of Anna Leighty (11). Leighty is the third girl from the left in the bottom row.

Anna Leighty (11) is on the varsity cheer team at PRHS. She has done cheer for five years now. Leighty loves the team aspect of cheer, saying “I love having a team because they become a family and are there for you and help to make the sport more enjoyable.”

Cheer attends practices Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for three hours each day. So far, Leighty says the practices have been focused on the basics because practice only started in the first week of July.

Spending time with her team is extremely important to Leighty. “I like summer practice and it is fun to be with my teammates because I am close friends with a lot of the girls on the team.”

In regards to following safety precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the cheer team wears masks entering/exiting practices and uses hand sanitizer. Social distancing is not a viable option for cheer, so the continuation of summer practices may not be a certainty, especially if cases increase in our area.

CHSAA has not yet released guidelines for any sports this coming school year, so many athletes are uncertain as to where that leaves them and their team. “I think the season will be very different but I don’t know what to expect,” said Leighty about cheer during the next school year.

Anna Leighty believes staying active is extremely important during quarantine because “it helps you to be ready for the season and just be a healthy person.”

Volleyball

The girl’s volleyball team at PRHS. Photo courtesy of Elaina Della Rossa (12). Della Rossa is the girl in the center of the bottom row.

Elaina Della Rossa (12) is on PRHS’s varsity volleyball team. Della Rossa has played volleyball at the YMCA since she was a little kid. Her favorite part of playing volleyball is “playing with the girls and having fun on and off the court with them.”

The volleyball team has the opportunity to attend open gym sessions on Monday and Wednesday. The team is split into two groups, so the first group plays for an hour, then the second group practices.

Athletes on the volleyball team sanitize when they enter/exit the building and do their best to social distance throughout practices. Coaches clean the volleyballs after each practice as well. “I feel safe attending practices because our coaches are taking the right precautions,” said Della Rossa.

Players and coaches are encouraged to monitor their symptoms and to not come to practices if they experience any symptoms of COVID-19. Regarding the potential risks of attending sports practices this summer, Della Rossa said, “I think we need to take legitimate medical precautions but I don’t think we have to quit everything just out of fear.”

Elaina Della Rossa feels that the volleyball summer practices are beneficial to the players, and the team as a whole. She said that “having summer open gyms is helpful for everyone to improve and get some touches on the ball, which is something some people may not have done since last season.”

“I hope that we will have a normal season but I have no idea how it will look. It’s all up in the air right now and every sport is going to have to just wait and see,” said Della Rossa.

PRHS Sports in General

Jason Boyer is the coach of the girl’s basketball team. During these uncertain times, he feels that players ought to do their best to put in the time and effort to reach their own individual goals. “With everyone in the state being in the same boat, it’s going to be imperative that athletes find time to craft their game on their own,” said Coach Boyer.

Coach Boyer elaborated on the importance of exercise during the quarantine. “I think exercising becomes even more important during this time. It’s very easy to become sedentary and spend all your time on Netflix. With our schedules disrupted and our social interactions limited, exercise is needed for our overall health. Exercise helps with not just weight gain, but it helps our body with stress reduction, immune system response, sleep, and overall mood.”

Overall, athletics for the rest of the summer and the next school year are almost entirely uncertain. CHSAA will likely release guidelines, or at least a detailed update, for sports and activities within the next couple of weeks. During this time, student-athletes must focus on their own goals, and be sure to take advantage of the available opportunities as long as they feel safe to do so.

Lance McCorkle, the Athletic Direct/Assistant Principal at Palmer Ridge explained the purpose of working hard to host safe summer practices for sports. “This is high school sports, it’s not about going out and getting scholarships. It’s about giving our kids opportunities to be with their friends and do something that they love,” said McCorkle.

McCorkle believes it is incredibly important to give students the opportunity to attend summer practices because it is healthy for students, both physically and mentally, especially during these stressful times. Student-athletes need the chance to get active and have fun with their friends, and so the district is working to keep summer practices as safe and as enjoyable as possible.

“We just want to get our kids back,” said McCorkle.