Article & Photos By: Molly Murphey
During their March 9th practice, the Santa Rosa High School Track and field team showed amazing commitment, doing drills through the downpour and running for shelter under the trees lining the field only when it began to hail.
When it cleared up, many swapped their soaking masks for new ones provided by Coach Carrie Joseph, a reminder that not only are these students having to make the best of the rain but also a pandemic that has left no aspect of their lives unchanged, least of all their sport.
In an email, Joseph gave me an idea of what to expect for the team’s practices. She wrote that each day of practice or conditioning starts “with a daily health screening and check-in process.”Athletes complete a survey regarding possible COVID-19 exposure via a Google Form before practice and have their temperature before being admitted onto the field.
Track is easier to adapt to pandemic regulations than other, more high contact sports, but it isn’t without its challenges. Junior Eli Winkleman said “the inclusion of the masks might make it a little harder at the end” of his events, the 100 and 200 meter races, and that he isn’t sure how meet officials are going to space out the lanes.
Joseph knows that her athletes face new obstacles this year, saying “running fast, hurdling, jumping, throwing… are all challenging on their own” and that “wearing a mask at all times makes it even harder.” She added that “track is a sport that encourages athletes to do multiple events plus there is a lot of equipment involved, so we will practice proper sanitizing and adhere to all of the [Santa Rosa City School district] protocols.”
While the runners drilled on the field, senior Logan Glascock, sophomore Sofia Henderson, and juniors Megan Walker and Jordan Zamora were taking turns practicing their discus throws. Zamora said that the mask isn’t as big of a hindrance for throwers as it is for runners and for him, the most noticeable difference this season is “having to social distance” because “we’re really used to being in close quarters, you know, congratulating people, giving them high-fives… You can’t do any of that now.”
Zamora says that being unable to share equipment or help out a teammate by picking up their shot or discus “makes it seem like we’re all very distanced now and doesn’t make it seem like a big family anymore.”
Last year, the Track and field team only participated in one meet— The Big Cat Invitational— before the season was abruptly cut off. Although there will be dual meets (meets with one other school) this year, Henderson points out that for many of her fellow teammates, invitationals have always been the most exciting part of the season.
Glascock missed out on the chance to earn a scholarship last year, his junior year. He told me, “I almost didn’t come out this year, but I really wanted to throw for all of my years.” Glascock is a great example of what Coach Joseph says about her team, that “athletes are trained to adapt and adjust, and I have found that ours have handled this with a great attitude.”