Dougherty Valley sports cancelled until further notice

Dougherty Valley sports cancelled until further notice

Alina Mohammadian, Staff Writter

As the second wave of COVID-19 hits, Dougherty Valley sports are cancelled to accommodate serious state safety protocols to keep athletes safe.

Winter has begun and so has the second spike in coronavirus cases and deaths, forcing many to adhere to stricter safety guidelines during the holidays. Dougherty Valley sports are no exception and have been called off until January 1, 2021 at the earliest, depending on the number of cases.

As of December 1, 2020 all fall sports have been cancelled until further notice, but that hasn’t stopped athletes’ and coaches’ hope for a season. They’ve managed to adapt and overcome the challenges presented so far, and are willing to train individually until the numbers come down and extreme safety measures are lifted. 

During the small window of time that teams were allowed to practice together, coaches instituted procedures to make sure everyone practised safely. 

“The goal is to adhere to all these measures so that we can mitigate any exposures to each other in the hopes that we continue with the ability to have sports,” Dougherty Valley football Coach Roberto Clemente said.

When they push it back even more each time [it’s difficult] staying optimistic and motivated to keep trying without the guarantee that there will actually be a season.

Although Clemente coaches an outside sport where it’s inherently safer, he takes protocol very seriously. When arriving at the stadium, all athletes and coaches are required to wear masks and use the hand sanitiser provided and then head to the bleachers for roll call where everyone sits in their assigned seat. The 64 players are then split into cohorts so that every 14 players are working with one assistant coach in one area of the field that’s been sectioned off with caution tape. The players are not allowed to interact with other cohorts whatsoever or share any equipment with any other player. 

“We had to wear our masks when we weren’t running or doing anything. We were practising mainly fitness, body weight, and footwork,” junior middle linebacker Nikhil Nambiar explained

Dougherty Valley basketball Coach Michael Hansen shared a similar procedure. 

“Players couldn’t share a basketball, we had masks on, nobody played live. Everything was non-contact and we tried to space kids out as much as possible.”

Hansen and his players are determined to be ready for their season, as all winter sports have been pushed back to spring. Though they aren’t able to practice together right now, Dougherty’s men’s basketball has been hard at work getting into shape. 

“We’ve created this culture in Dougherty Valley men’s basketball and it’s a culture that works. You don’t really need to hover over them. And since the best players are the hardest workers, everyone else falls in line,” Hansen elaborated. 

Seniors and returners such as Jacoby Lacey, Ryan Beasley and Aiden Sevilla have taken it upon themselves to get ready and motivate their other teammates to get back in shape with a “stay ready so you don’t have to get ready” mentality. 

During a normal year, the team would be lifting weights and working out in the mornings. This year they’ve had to adapt and call over Zoom to check in with each other and their individual progress. 

Though athletes have adapted to these strange new times, it’s been difficult for them to keep up morale while not interacting with their teammates and playing as usual.

Nambiar said, “The hardest part for me has probably been staying optimistic and having hope because I’ve been working a lot, probably 10-20 hours a week getting better for the season. From all of July to December I kept saying ‘it’s okay, we’re almost there, it’s always going to pay off.’ And then when they push it back even more each time [it’s difficult] staying optimistic and motivated to keep trying without the guarantee that there will actually be a season.”  

Clemente says he even sees a direct correlation between the players’ grades and the time they spend on the field, with grades starting to slip now that they’ve stopped practices. 

“The greatest challenge is the unknown. We don’t know what next week is going to look like. We don’t even know if we’re going to have a season. We adapt really well, but it’s tough,” Clemente explained. 

Hansen is also struggling with the distance and the abnormalities,  missing interacting with his players greatly. However, he knows that the coronavirus is still a very real and dangerous threat to him, his family and his players.  

“At the end of the day, it’s just a sport. It’s really not life or death or worth getting people sick. If you keep that perspective that people are dying and people are sick and also keep in perspective that it’s only a game, it’s only a sport. Yeah it’s a huge part of our life, but if we act right now, we’ll get to enjoy it again someday soon,” he said.