Hold the Ball

Athletics on hold due to novel coronavirus


Photo: Anjali Choudhury

Senior Ben Rothman prepares to swing during batting practice. Before the statewide shelter-in-place order, the baseball team held daily informal captain’s practices to remain ready for any shot at a season.

On March 13, Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced that all K-12 schools in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, including University Prep, would close through at least April 24 on account of the novel coronavirus, officially named COVID-19. Although the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) released a video on March 17 stating that they still expect to hold state championships for spring sports, for UPrep student-athletes, Inslee’s announcement meant the cancellation of most or all of their sports seasons.

Due to the sudden and hectic nature of the COVID-19 outbreak, the schedule for spring sports teams has changed dramatically. According to UPrep Athletic Director Rebecca Moe, the situation around scheduling events is uncertain as of this time, but the WIAA plans to continue the championships if schools reopen around the time the governor has currently planned.

As of now, the WIAA plans to hold spring sports championships if schools do open back up on April 27,” Moe said.

Although the outcome of the Upper School spring sports schedule isn’t certain, Moe also notes that many sports organizations and broadcasters have trended toward announcements of suspension until further notice. “As you see all over the country – the NCAA basketball tournament, NBA, MLB, NHL, MLS – all suspended,” Moe said.

The cancellation of the majority of the season affected junior Max Lagunoff’s plans to participate in track and field at the Division I level. To get recruited, Lagunoff needs to lower his times in the 1600-meter race and 3200-meter race by just a few seconds each, but with the indefinite cancellation of spring sports, he is facing the stress of an unknown schedule. 

“My main issue is that all I have to do is get my times down a little bit this spring. I was talking to a bunch of coaches, and that’s the overall consensus for me. As long as I get a few races, whether it’s in May or April, I think I am in the shape I need to be in, but it’s stressful,” Lagunoff said.  

Lagunoff also worries that he may have limited attempts to achieve his goals due to the drastic changes to the season.

“Normally, you get like 12 to 15 races or so to get times down, but by the time we are back, I may only have five or six. At the end of the day, though, it’s a performance sport, and so I have to be able to perform when the time comes,” Lagunoff said.

Freshman and soccer player Josh Yi was looking forward to his first high school season on the varsity team before COVID-19 derailed his plans. 

“Overall this just sucks and [COVID-19] might even affect my club soccer,” Yi said. 

Without daily practices, Yi focuses on keeping himself in shape. 

“Before the shelter-in-place, I was going to the soccer field every day and playing by myself. There was sometimes team stuff organized by the captains, but now, I just have to get my work in, however I can. I’m doing footwork drills in my room, juggling, passing the ball against my wall and dribbling the ball around my house,” Yi said.

Sophomore and tennis player Darta Sipola was similarly saddened by the loss of most or all of the season, and expressed her sympathy for the seniors on her team. 

It’s super frustrating to not be able to play as it’s my senior season and I had been looking forward to it a ton.”

— Senior and Ultimate Frisbee Player Rachel Selby

“I can’t even imagine how the seniors feel. They love tennis, and I don’t think they are going to play after high school. It sucks even more for them because, you know, I know that I’m gonna have two more seasons, but they’re not,” Sipola said.

Sipola also noted that for some, UPrep sports is all they get, and now the shutdown of school took that away.

 “I play tennis outside of playing for UPrep, so this isn’t that big a deal-breaker for me. … I would still have other options, but people who don’t play outside of school, I don’t know what they’re gonna do,” Sipola said.

In response to the indefinite cancellation of spring sports, seniors have felt especially disappointed and shocked As they prepare for college, seniors acknowledge that this is their last chance of enjoying sports with UPrep’s Upper School program.

“It’s super frustrating to not be able to play as it’s my senior season, and I had been looking forward to it a ton. I wouldn’t suggest with how crazy the virus is that UPrep do anything different, but it still really sucks,” senior and ultimate frisbee player Rachel Selby said.

Senior and baseball player Ben Rothman wishes he could get the authentic senior season experience and a proper sendoff from UPrep’s sports program. With the UPrep baseball team having won the state championship last year, Rothman wants another shot at an outstanding season.

“Every senior deserves a chance to take off their jersey for the last time. And so, if we don’t get that opportunity, it’s like we kind of lost this whole experience of life for an athlete,” Rothman said.