Cohorts and the Future of AHS Sports

Alvin Gonzales

Staff Writer

     Sports, to some student-athletes, is where their strong determinations have been built from. To some others, sports have given them the fond memories and strong camaraderies that they’ve built over the time they’ve been on the team. Other student-athletes are just big fans of the sport they do. Some student-athletes even depend on their sport to provide for their future. 

     In the spring of the 2020 school year, COVID-19 concluded the spring sports season leaving many athletes devastated. In October of the 2020-2021 school year, AHS released news from the FUSD district introducing the first-ever pre-season conditioning program being held by the school for season-one sports starting October 19. The school’s plan is to condition in cohorts of eleven people at a time per three weeks up until the sports season begins. Season-one sports that are to start their conditioning on October 19 are football, water polo, volleyball, and cheer, except for cross country.

    “Overall I think [the cohort conditioning is] a pretty effective strategy, but I think there are some drawbacks to that because you can’t work on your relay handoffs because you need to touch a [track] baton and get in close contact with someone else, which is a pretty big issue if you’re doing [track] relays,” says dedicated track athlete, Raymond Tsui (11). Some events in track and field, a season-two sport, like the relay races require the passing of a baton, which makes the spread of germs inevitable. “I personally think we should condition more, but just self-conditioning,” Tsui added.

     Although he does not feel entirely comfortable about this new cohort conditioning, as an athlete, Raymond Tsui still stays committed to the idea of continuing to train during these times of isolation.

     Sports at AHS like Cross Country have already planned to do self-conditioning rather than meeting in cohorts at American High School to do offseason training and Thien Tran is one of those cross country runners at AHS.

     “[The cross country team is] actually in a Google Classroom right now and [Coach Ramirez] just gives us [workouts]… saying that we should… try to run three miles every [weekday],” cross country runner, Thien Tran (11), explained. “Will [the cross country races] still be how we did last year or will it just be like a small group, and then… a small group of five goes, and then two minutes after [the next group of runners start],” Thien Tran (11) theorizes about how her cross country season might look like.

     Cross country isn’t the only season-one sport expected to do conditioning in October 2020, however, football is another one of those sports and Darrius Paran-Ybona is part of the team.

     “I usually [train] at school and in the weight room and on the field and whatnot for football. But for at home was usually my resting time… 80% of the time it’s always at school, or after school,” the young football player, Darrius Paran-Ybona (11) remarked. Paran-Ybona is a football player at American and intends on joining the cohort conditionings this year to help himself get on the team again this year. 

     However, for some student-athletes, American High School may be the only place that they can properly train for their sport.

     “I don’t have all the material that I need… I don’t have the footballs, I don’t have the helmets, the pads, and all the weight lifting stuff, all them dumbbells and stuff in the weight room,” Darrius Paran-Ybona (11) addresses.

     Some athletes training on their own may also find it hard to work on the team communication aspect of some sports.

     “I feel like if we get into the season, we’re probably going to be lacking a lot and make more mistakes than we had last season because last season we really had a lot of practices and it was more intense,” football player, Jake Navarro (12), says honestly.

     Jake Navarro (12) brings up a possible harsh reality for the futures of AHS student-athletes and the continuance of their sports seasons for the 2020-2021 school year.

     “I feel like COVID will probably mess up the season and stop the season,” Jake Navarro (12) predicts. “I don’t think it will go away this school year.”

     All of these athletes so far are planning on joining track, cross country, or football, but this doesn’t mean that all athletes will be able to try out for the sport they want to join this year.

     “[My parents are] pretty enthusiastic, as long as we maintain…  6-feet distance,” Raymond Tsui (11) remarked. “I’m looking forward to more practices or competitions because [the track team] basically missed out a lot last year.”

     Other families of student-athletes at AHS also share these supportive vibes with the upcoming 2020-2021 sports season.

     Thien Tran is another one of the student-athletes that is planning on competing for her sport in the 2020-2021 sports season.

     “My sister, specifically, she thinks I should still do [cross country], you know, because she sees how I’m so happy while running, or doing cross country. You know, [cross country] definitely changed me for the better,” Thien Tran (11) explained.

     Although there are families that are supportive about the continuance of sports during the 2020-2021 school year, this doesn’t take away their concerns about the possibilities of the contraction of COVID-19.

     “My mom and sister. Yeah… They’ll probably be really scared or something. They’ll probably complain. They’ll probably make me stop going to the practices,” Jake Navarro (12), who still plans on joining the football team, shared.

     Other families just aren’t as comfortable during the COVID-19 pandemic and don’t share the same level of acceptance to the resumption of sports in the 2020-2021 school year.

     “My mom is just totally against it. She does not want me to [join track this year],” Vijay Murali (10) acceptingly says despite wanting to join track. “Honestly track and field is probably the highlight of my day, every single day. I don’t think I’ve ever been depressed or not looking forward to track. So I guess I was overall just a much happier kid after track,” Vijay Murali (10).

     Despite the coronavirus’ effect on sports, American High School’s student-athletes still stay hopeful for a full season of sports and are determined to continue to push through the storm, that is the coronavirus. “Junior year I’m definitely gonna [join the track team]… I cannot miss out on track and field… the next two years I’m going to do track and field, but I think it’s gonna be really fun,” Vijay Murali (10) says.

During the coronavirus, Darrius Paran-Ybona (10) is sitting outdoors under the beautiful summer sun. In this photo, Darrius had just gone for a run to continue staying in shape for football season and is wearing a facemask and some cool shades while posing for an Instagram photo that he posted on May 23, 2020. “Hard work always pays off… as long as you put in the work, you get the results,” Darrius Paran-Ybona (10) stated.

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