Sports at EVHS Return to In-Person and on Campus in the Second Semester

EVHS Sports Return to Campus in the Second Semester Allowing Teams to Bond and Participate in Games After a Long Pause

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https://evhs.schoolloop.com/athletics

EVHS released the schedule for the sport seasons to return to EVHS in the 2020 to 2021 school year.

Karen Chen

This school year, athletic seasons and events have been cancelled and postponed due to COVID. Student athletes have been unable to participate or practice at school due to the risk of spreading COVID to other students and staff. As the second half of school has begun, Evergreen Valley High School (EVHS) has allowed students to return to campus and begin athletic events again. The sporting events have returned some normalcy to the students on campus, but administrators, teachers, and students have also encountered difficulties from the new format. 

The return to campus for sports was a sudden decision. Many coaches and administrators did not foresee a great possibility of returning to campus at the beginning of the year until the appearance of new legal policies for schools. 

“There was pretty much no chance that we were going to have a season for any of the indoor sports,” said Coach Ashokkumar, the head basketball coach at EVHS. “And then all of a sudden there was this legal ruling from San Diego saying that high school sports could operate within the same restrictions as colleges and pros. And that settlement allowed indoor sports to kind of take off.”

With the news of sports returning to school, administrators and coaches have scrambled to plan and conduct sporting events for students once again. To ensure the safety for all returning students, EVHS has enforced safety protocols and periodic COVID testing. Sanitizing equipment, maintaining hygiene, wearing masks, and maintaining distance between players has become a norm for all practices and games. 

“I think the precautions do do a lot and as an outdoor sport there aren’t as many worries, so students seem to be taking it pretty seriously and so do the other coaches,” said Coach Ebert, the girls’ soccer team coach. As an outdoor sport, students at soccer games and practices don’t have to worry as much about the possibility of COVID spreading due to air circulation. 

The cheerleading team at EVHS has also found that being able to conduct practices outside have allowed for more flexibility in comparison to indoor sports. Practicing choreographies and stunts can all be done on a grass surface or on flat ground. In contrast, indoor sports such as basketball have struggled to coordinate their gym schedules with other returning sports.

In a normal school year, basketball, badminton, volleyball, and wrestling typically take place during different seasons. However, with the return of many sport teams, flexibility with using the gym for practices has gone down. 

“The season was postponed and the length of the season is incredibly short. In addition to that, normally, gym use is much more spread out,” said Coach Ashokkumar. 

Sanitizing the benches, equipment and gym after practices and games has added another responsibility and task to coaches and the custodial staff at EVHS as well. 

However, many students and coaches are still grateful for the return of sports despite its additional rules and tasks. With the return of practices and games with team members and other schools, students and teachers have felt a sense of their normal campus life returning.

“It is like the best part of school is back because for a lot of students that is the best part of school, right? It’s the sports. It’s the hanging out with friends and doing the thing that they like to do. The school part can be fun too, but the sports is what a lot of students come to school for,” said Coach Ebert. 

Compared to prior methods of practicing such as using Zoom, student athletes and coaches have felt that the return to campus has allowed for socializing and team-bonding to become easier. Before students were allowed to come back on campus, teams like the cheer team at EVHS have been using Zoom meetings to conduct practices and meetings. In person, coaches can now more easily guide practices and find areas for improvement. 

“You miss that personal connection and it was a little bit harder for them to see each other,” said Coach Randazzo. “And it was harder for me because I see everybody in a little square, right? And sometimes the camera’s on and sometimes the camera’s not, so I see a picture or I see a name.” 

However, even with the return of practices and games on campus, students and staff are still anticipating future changes and progress as COVID vaccines are rolled out and conditions become safer. 

“There have been a few obstacles in bonding because not everyone comes to in-person practice because there are some people who are on zoom,” said Stephanie Wong, a cheerleader at EVHS. “Because you know, like maybe some people don’t have a ride or don’t feel comfortable going, so there are two different groups. It’s kind of hard to meet everyone and get to know the team members.” 

Normal bonding activities such as going out for dinner together after games or hanging out before and after practices are now not possible. However, the return to campus itself has already been a great positive shift. Coach Ashokkumar expressed appreciating all the hard work and efforts that the administration, custodial staff, and athletic directors have put into creating a place for students to immerse themselves in their sports and put their skills to action.

Until conditions in Santa Clara County continue to improve, students have been enjoying the return of sports until spectators and normal events return to EVHS.