Athletes struggle to train without team

CAPTION: Davis High graduates Annie and Ruthie Mitchell play for University of Chicago women’s soccer team.

By Julia Limburg, Staff–

When quarantine started and schools and universities closed, many athletes were forced to stop training.

Davis High graduate Annie Mitchell is in her second year at the University of Chicago.

When her school closed in early March of last year, Mitchell decided to stay at home and take online classes. In turn, she could not play for her college’s soccer team.

Mitchell feels left out. However, she is still playing soccer with her sister, Ruthie Mitchell, who also played competitively.

According to Annie, practicing is fun but different. “The worst thing is there’s no field that has open goals for us to shoot on. We bought a small pop-up goal to compensate, but it’s not the same,” she said.

She also said that, while she has been staying physically fit, her motivation is lacking without a team depending on her.

However, some positives have come from not being able to play competitively. “My identity used to be ‘Athlete Annie,’  but COVID forced me to focus on other aspects of my personality, such as being a good student, friend and family member,” Annie said.

Ruthie Mitchell also had to adjust to not playing competitive soccer. Although she has been exercising a lot, she is nervous about having to play a normal 90 minute soccer game.

“I am certainly not as game fit as I have been in the past,” Ruthie Mitchell said. “Game fitness […] comes from playing games and practicing with a lot of other people, which I haven’t been able to do in a long time.”

DHS sophomore Anaya Browning was also affected by the loss of sports. She runs track and cross country for the school. 

Neither sport has started back up, but Browning continues to train.

However, it is not easy. “It makes me less motivated to workout without all of [my teammates’] support,” Browning said.

DHS junior Valeria Pandilla also does track and cross country at DHS. She too feels less motivated without the support of her team, and is also more stressed.

“Taking part in […school sports] gave me a way to relieve stress […] by exercising with friends who I related with. Without […school sports] it has been more difficult to relieve that stress,” Pandilla said.

Alia Cordone is in ninth grade at Emerson Junior High. She plays basketball and volleyball for her school. Both sports have started up again but with changes.

“We had to adjust so that it is spread out and we can’t use each other’s ball,” Cordone said. Cordone has had more free time and has been doing her own workouts and studying more. 

Cordone said that when the sports started again, she was not in shape and had to work to get back to where she was. She also said that she had a hard time focusing in the beginning.

“I was so accustomed to being active and always having something to do that when COVID hit, it took me a while to get back in the groove,” Cordone said.

The physical aspect of sports is well known, but it can also help a person’s mental health. According to Dr. Andrew McDaniel, a pediatrician at Kaiser Sacramento, research shows a connection between sports, and anxiety and depression levels.

“We […] need to take a very serious look at how the loss of sports has led to social isolation and a […] reduction in physical activity,” McDaniel said.

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