Middle School Students Back in Club Sports

Youth sports have slowly been opening up during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Youth sports have slowly been opening up during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hailey A., Hayley B., Alex L., and Nicole D.

“We started a softball season and we were still having some practices. We didn’t really know what COVID was yet and we were about to have a game and they just said we can’t anymore because of COVID and that really hurt because we weren’t able to play for so many more months after that,” said Hailee M.

Ever since March of 2020, nearly everything has been closed as a result of COVID-19. Yet sports are beginning to open up, and life has started to resume. But how has it been for young athletes?

“It made my heart sink. It was the most devastating thing to hear because we’ve been practicing for so long,” Hailee said. 

Playing sports helps keep kids grounded. Children need to socialize just as much as they need to exert themselves. For some kids, sports are their entire social life and their only extracurricular. These activities create friendships and a lifelong passion for physical activity. On another note, children may experience depression as they get older if they don’t have something they love to do, such as sports. 

“What they found were that team sports actually conferred protection in some kids that had adverse life-effects, long term for mood,” said Joe Austerman, D.O., of Cleveland Clinic Children’s. “These children, when they were older, didn’t get as depressed as often as kids that were not engaged in group activities or sports.”  

Everyone needs social interaction for their everyday life. Sports can help with that. Social skills are key in life and COVID has not made it easy so we need to try our best to benefit everyone. 

“It was definitely nice being able to just get out, get moving, and just being able to teach kids. It’s a good way to get moving and talk with your teammates and just get out,” said Josh Vega, a coach for the Tsunami water polo team. 

COVID is a higher risk for high-contact sports. Sports like football and wrestling increase the risk of infection among youth athletes, coaches, and families. In order to minimize that risk, leagues are taking significant precautions.

“We alternate our practices so we go inside and outside. We sanitize all equipment daily. Everyone wears masks, practices are limited. Normally the gym is at 100% capacity, instead, it’s at 25% capacity. The gym is cleaned. We give hand sanitizer to our players,” said D’Sunte Wilson, director at Out of Bounds Volleyball. 

Sports facilities that are staying open have to follow the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for playing sports. This includes making sure that athletes are sanitized and that they are bringing their own equipment, including gloves, headgear, and bats. And of course, wearing a mask and staying 6 feet away is essential. 

The cost of sanitation, cleaning, and providing additional masks has caused some organizations to lose money by staying open. Some clubs have stopped competition entirely. 

“It’s not the money, I’ll tell you that. It is costing us more, we are losing money by staying open. One thing I look at mental health,” said Coach D’Sunte, or Coach D.

Though COVID-19 continues to present a physical risk, mental health is also a factor. But, the new state guidelines have opened the floodgates for increased student sports participation.

“(My daughter) isn’t having to be cooped up in the house and is (now) able to see her friends she has made throughout playing golf. It gives her a chance to be outside,” said Robert Becker, the parent of a student golfer.

During quarantine, mental health has declined due to a lack of social interaction.  Being able to go out and see people can help, despite the restrictions. As COVID cases subside, student sports continue to open up. They offer children the opportunity to return to physical, mental, and social activity.

“I’m having a hard time so I know you guys are having a hard time, especially with everything that is going on so it is nice just for everyone to be able to get out and I’m able to help,” said Coach Vega.