Racing through the field, you feel yourself flying down the sidelines, with your sights directly on the upcoming goal. The adrenaline in your body pushes you forward, and you give one final kick to shoot and score your team a point. Yet, this time it is different. You are playing with a mask on, and without a crowd. For sophomore Jenelle Jensen, these words became a reality.
“Without the crowd there, it is a lot quieter and you can hear and talk to your teammates more,” Jensen said. “You can recognize when we need to be talking as a team.”
Despite these positive effects of a smaller crowd, Jensen prefers the larger crowd, as it hypes up athletes, and gives more of an adrenaline rush. Junior Megumi Ludlow, who trains in cross country, compares both pre-pandemic meets with current meets.
“[Before the pandemic], if it’s a big meet with a lot of schools, then there are usually people who line the race course, and then at the finish line, there are people, like parents and students,” Ludlow said. She then explained that their current meets did not technically allow any spectators to be present.
Ludlow’s motivating factor for racing this season is the hope that she will get a chance to train again next year, for her senior season. Junior football player Michael Cale has also gotten a chance to play, yet in a unique way this season.
“Our first home game we played McNary at their home field. We have to wear masks under our helmets. No fans, and only a limit of 50 players per team,” Cale said in an Instagram message. “I’ve pretty much played baseball, football, and basketball since I could walk, so this last year has been hard on me and my teammates.”
Although this year has brought much change for many athletes, students, and teachers, these games were still able to occur.
“The main thing that motivated me was love for the sport, and just feeling like I was being productive and doing something,” Jensen said. “Soccer was the only in-person interaction that I got during [all of] last summer. Seeing real people, like my classmates, really helped me push through the pandemic.”
Like Jensen, Cale used football as an outlet in a year that has been difficult and challenging for many.
“This global pandemic [has] made me want to play even more,” Cale wrote. “Being able to play got my friends and I out of a pretty tough year, not just for us, but for everyone.”