On Oct. 26, Diamond Bar High School athletes closed their laptops to begin practicing on campus. For many of the athletes, this was their first time training with their teams since the school shut down in March.
“I’m excited to return to campus training because I’m excited to start my senior cheer season,” senior cheerleader Madeline Hernandez said through text. “Even though practices look very different from how they used to be, they are actually really fun.”
Although athletes were eager to begin on-campus training, they had to make sure they submitted forms to qualify for the Return to Practice initiative. This included having a parent fill out a Google Form that proved they watched a video put out by Athletic Director Albert Lim, athletic trainer Chase Paulson and Principal Rueben Jones. The video offers safety precautions, pick-up and drop-off points, a screening form that needs to be filled out daily by athletes and other important information for athletes to be able to return to campus safely.
Athletes and parents were told that teams will be working out together in pods of 12 with one to two coaches leading the group. Along with not being allowed to go over a certain limit of people in a group, the athletes will no longer be able to use equipment on campus. This includes balls and all the equipment that is normally used in the weight rooms.
“I’m excited to be having this conversation and we are ready to get started and have a safe experience,” Lim said at the beginning of the RTP informational video.
The video also mentioned the Assumption of the Risk and Waiver of Liability Relating to Coronavirus/COVID-19 for students who were planning to participate needed to be considered “cleared.” For many this became a hassle because there was confusion regarding clearance forms previously submitted by athletes. This waiver added another thing to a DBHS athletes’ to-do list.
Coaches and athletes must fill out a Covid Health Screen form every day before attending practice. The screening asks questions regarding whether or not the athlete or coach shows symptoms of COVID-19, and the responses are later sent to coaches. Lim also said on the video that athletes must fill out the form before noon to give the athletic department enough time to process responses.
“I think having to do the Covid screening everyday will get annoying because it is going to be very repetitive,” sophomore cross-country runner Natasia Mannix said through text. “As students, we know better than to go to practice if we aren’t feeling good, so I think it is unnecessary.”
While at DBHS facilities, athletes are to remain six feet apart while wearing a mask. If the athletes are doing activity that is too strenuous to wear a mask, like running, the athletes must be eight feet away from each other. For the most part, this has not become a problem among coaches and athletes, according to those who are currently practicing on-campus.
The school has made an effort to clarify these limitations by putting up signs at different entrances, which share things like “wear a mask” and “stay 6-feet apart.”
Just like the actual teams, the athletic training department is also being limited. Athletes are no longer allowed to get the training or help that they used to. Athletes are no longer able to get water jugs from the athletic training department and are now required to bring their own water bottle that preferably has their name on it.
Because of the restrictions due to COVID-19, the athletes don’t have the usual access to injury assistance. Some have already started experiencing pain while working out.
“It was hard coming back to an intense practice after taking it easy for the past few months and that resulted in a muscle spasm that was hard to deal with because I could not go see Chase [Paulson] to help with the problem,” junior soccer player and cross-country runner Jacob Moskovitz said via Snapchat.
Meanwhile, some athletes decided that they would rather remain practicing virtually during this time because of a recent increase in COVID-19 cases.
Even though the future of sports still remains uncertain with the increase in COVID-19 cases, athletes returning to campus are one step closer to athletic competition eventually being able to take place.