Athletes Struggle to Get Noticed During COVID

Lin Meyers and Kylie Tanimura

The global pandemic limited sports in the years 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 and high school seniors and student-athletes experienced a range of emotions about how COVID affected their chances of playing their sport in the future. 

During Kalani’s 2020-2021 school year, fall and winter sports were canceled with a slim hope for a spring season. Student-athletes were deprived of their outlet for physical activity and lost the opportunity to showcase their athletic talents.

“I had less opportunities to create good stat,” Maddison Hatanaka (12) exclaimed. 

Students at Kalani High School were able to participate in a short season last Spring, and a full season this Fall after a delayed start.

“I was very very happy to hear that we would have a full season — fall, winter, spring sports,” Cross Country and Track and Field Coach Brooke Nasser said.  

Athletes report that restrictions are tough; students specifically cite wearing a mask at all times, social distancing, and health checks as difficult to deal with. 

“I feel like all sports require breathing hard but running is something else, you need to breathe well in order to run well and the masks make it hard to breathe well,” Ami Yamane (10) said.  

Also difficult was getting back into the groove after a long break.

“When we had to complete conditioning before we were permitted to play sports, I would say I struggled a little bit with the running aspect,” Kokona Watanabe (10) said. “I was feeling sick and dizzy.” 

The COVID-19 restrictions have loosened over the summer, and for the 2021-2022 school year students are back on campus. The season was postponed to September 24, with the rule that the athletes must be fully vaccinated or take a weekly COVID test.

Some athletes were happy about the vaccine requirements.  

“I understand people have their preferences but I really think that everyone should be vaccinated in order to benefit the welfare of everyone,” Madixx Muramoto (11) said. 

To allow sports to resume, coaches and players have to continue to social distance, especially if the sport takes place indoors.

In a survey students answered that 74% of their sports are played outside. Infographic made using Google Forms. Twenty-eight students participated in the survey.
Athletes report that wearing a mask is the most difficult restriction. In a survey, an anonymous responder described “people with breathing problems such as asthma might have a very difficult time playing with masks.” Infographic made using Google Forms. Twenty-eight students participated in the survey.
Athletes at Kalani feel that their social distance during practice is in the middle. Infographic made using Google Forms. Twenty-eight students participated in the survey.

When the pandemic shut down sports in the Spring of 2020, athletes missed out on opportunities for college recruitment. Kalani athletes rely on school and club teams to get into collegiate athletic programs. However, some athletes took advantage of the long break by training. 

“It gives me the chance to improve and get stronger and faster,” Hatanaka said.

During the break, many athletes reached out to colleges via email. Athletes also created online profiles and posted their achievements, stats, and extracurricular activities to get attention.

Still, emails and skills videos weren’t the same as having a full sports season.

It lowered my chances of going D1 being that I am now late entering the recruiting process and D1 schools had already closed their rosters early,” softball player Christen Horita (12) explains. 

With the downsides of COVID, Horita and Hatanaka have advice for younger students interested in getting recruited. 

“You don’t have to be the biggest or strongest but you always have to be improving and working hard,” Maddison advises. 

Getting colleges to notice you takes a lot of effort and commitment. 

“If you open your horizons it’ll allow you to have higher chances of getting recruited as well as receiving better scholarships,” Horita says.