COVID-19 forces athletes to leave

With the threat of COVID-19 still rampant in Southern California, several Diamond Bar High School cross country athletes have dropped out of their sports to keep themselves and others safe.

Junior Henna Gonzalo, who was a varsity cross country runner, quit the team as the first semester ended. One deciding factor in her decision included when her coach told the team that some of the team members weren’t as committed to the sport as they should have been.

“Because of social distancing guidelines and my family’s desires to remain safe, I wasn’t attending the few practices being held,” Gonzalo said via Instagram. “Basically, I felt pretty alone and running on my own started to feel like a chore more than something to do for myself.”

Gonzalo said she talked the decision through with other people, and even then, she still struggled with whether or not she made the right choice. However, in the end, she is confident in dropping out and intends to stick to it for the remainder of high school.

“Despite talking to various people for advice, insight, and all that, I still wasn’t completely sure until the time to change by mind ran out,” Gonzalo said. “[But] someone I spoke to phrased it this way: if I actually wanted to return for senior year, I’d have been really pushing myself to practice over quarantine.”

Kelly Reyes, a DBHS junior who was also on varsity cross country, made the decision to drop out before the cross country season started. Although she said she was a bit saddened at times that she couldn’t be with her teammates, she said it was a decision she doesn’t regret.

“COVID was a really big part of my decision [of dropping out] because I knew that if I were to begin practicing with the team that I would be endangering myself and my family,” Reyes said via Instagram. “I wasn’t willing to risk getting or spreading COVID.”

Making the choice of dropping out was not difficult for Reyes since she wanted to take precautionary measures in staying safe during the pandemic. She has taken up other forms of exercise such as biking and hiking. 

She wants to return for senior year since she is passionate about the sport and loves spending time with her teammates. She said she may  feel more comfortable  returning for her senior year if more people are vaccinated. 

Alyssa Wu, another junior who is on cross country, dropped out since COVID was affecting her motivation to improve as a runner. There was also a concern with running in pods, made up of 12 people, that deterred her from continuing. 

“Usually one of my largest motivations for endurance would be running with teammates, but since that is impossible at the moment, that caused a massive blow to my motivation as well,” Wu said via email. 

Although Wu hasn’t set up a strict practicing schedule for herself, she has found time to take a walk or jog on her own time, where she said she felt freer since she wasn’t exercising with a specific goal in mind. While she isn’t completely sure if she is going to return in her senior year, she said that the possibility is highly likely if the cases decrease. 

“Our coaches have been emphasizing how we should run in smaller ‘pods,’ which does ensure less physical contact between team members,” Wu said. “I personally do like the idea, since running with others is quite encouraging in terms of physical endurance, while health and safety is also strictly a concern.”