COVID-19 has affected students' ability to participate in team sports


Dec. 5, 2020, 10:31 a.m. | By Myles Feingold-Black | 2 months, 3 weeks ago

The recent spike in cases has made it more challenging for students to meet up with teammates


For athletes, self-discipline and determination are essential for success. In the past months, the pandemic has tested the integrity of these qualities in Blair athletes, forcing them to adapt their training and mindset in order to prepare themselves for the future.

Although Montgomery County plans to begin reopening schools on Feb. 1 if health metrics allow, the current surge in COVID-19 cases across the county makes the return of in-person learning and sports more uncertain. 

 Freshman Mikhail Seiken is on Blair's football team. Before the pandemic, Seiken had never taken football seriously. Once his friends started encouraging him to start playing, he went all in with his training."I lift pretty much every day after school… and then every weekend I have [wide] receiver training… with a private trainer," he says.

Due to the recent COVID surge, Seiken has not been practicing with his Blair teammates, and has instead been training either by himself or with a small group of friends. "I've been encouraging a lot of my teammates to try to get out as much as they can in a safe way… and get in as much work as they can so that they're ready for the season," Seiken says.

If it is safe to play football in the fall, Seiken plans to be a wide receiver for Blair's varsity team. In the meantime, he will continue to focus on his training for both its physical and mental benefits. "Just getting outside and running around really helps me get away from being on a screen all day."

Junior Olivia Schulz also makes sure to get outside and exercise during her freetime. She has worked on her physical conditioning as a member of the softball team. "I'll do personal workouts daily or every other day, just to stay in shape, mostly just upper body and lower body," Schulz says.

Photo: Schulz has worked on her physical conditioning as a member of the softball team (courtesy of Audrey Haverland)

In addition to playing softball for Blair, Schulz is also on a travel team. This fall, Schulz decided to stop attending her travel team's indoor batting practices because she wanted to protect herself and her family. "I want to make sure that I stay safe so that I can keep my family safe. That means no taking risks, like batting cages. I will do group practice outside, because you can stay a lot farther away [from other people]."

Photo: Schulz decided to stop attending her travel team's indoor batting practices because she wanted to protect herself and her family (courtesy of Audrey Haverland)

Blair Crew is another team sport that has had to adapt its practices to protect its athletes. Junior Colin Lederer, a varsity rower, has attended modified training sessions in the fall. As a safety measure, the rowers have been training in groups based on skill and gender. 

During the fall, Lederer trained with the same group of varsity boys. "It's basically a family. You become such a close group of people and you know everything about each other, you train with each other, and you feel like if you're not giving your all or having a bad day, you want to try as much as you can. So you're not letting everyone else down on the boat," Lederer says.

He misses the Friday-night team dinners and Saturday-morning competitions, and laments that the team has not bonded in the same way it did last year. "I feel like that's taken away from a lot of getting to know the new people on the team." 

Blair will follow the county's guidelines in deciding whether and how to allow students back to school, and how sports will happen during the second semester. In the meantime, student athletes are preparing the best they can so that when the time comes to perform, they'll be ready.

Last updated: Jan. 25, 2021, 10:38 a.m.


Tags: Blair sports COVID-19 quarantine

Myles Feingold-Black. Hey! I'm Myles, and I'm a junior staff writer here at SCO. If I'm not writing a story, you can probably find me winding through Takoma Park either on a bike or in my running shoes. More »

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