Annenberg Radio

The return to high school sports

High school athletes across the nation struggles mentally and physically without sports, but Andie Pomeroy managed to stay dedicated to be ready when allowed to return to play.

COVID-19 shut down sports in March of 2020, many high school student-athletes across the country struggled. They urged to play the sports they loved so much, but could not do so. Almost a year later, the California Interscholastic Federation announced in February 2021 that outdoor sports could have a season. With health and safety protocols in place, student-athletes were finally allowed to get back to the field. Ava Brand has more on high school athletes and their passion to play.

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After driving aimlessly past the turf field and a summer of virtual workouts under the Southern California sun, Foothill High School’s Andie Pomeroy did not know if safety guidelines would allow her to play her senior season.

“I feel like I was just disappointed, I guess. But also, just like I don’t know, I feel like it’s so hard to put it into words, but I feel like I was just like it didn’t feel real.”

Pomeroy, one of the fiercest players on her team, had been dreaming of her senior night at Northrup Stadium since she was a freshman on the varsity team. It would be a night to celebrate her hard work the past four years and all of the success she had in her lacrosse career. Pomeroy and her coach optimistically scheduled practices beginning in September to help keep the team connected. They had to follow COVID-19 protocols, which included wearing masks and not implementing contact drills.

“We did no contact drills and were all still wearing masks. Like we couldn’t even do seven on seven on attack.”

The team understood that one positive case could strip away the luxury of practicing during COVID.

Cristina Rodriguez, Pomeroy’s coach, knows the pain of having a season taken away.

“We did a really good job of staying on top of all of the protocols that we had to so we could stay on the field. So, you know, it’s been challenging. I’ve had to revamp a lot of my playbooks and practice plans to keep noncontact, socially distanced drills.”

With these struggles in mind, Rodriguez still tried to keep a forward-looking mentality.

“I was trying to keep a really positive mindset to keep the girls and parents and, you know, just the whole Foothill community in a positive mindset.”

Even under these circumstances and still not knowing if they could officially have a season, Pomeroy was just happy to be back out on the field and practicing with her teammates.

“I just love the sport and the team so much that, like, I was like we were all so happy to get back on the field. I think we’re all really grateful to be able to practice at all when the time finally came. The vibes are good. I think everybody is happy to be there.”

“I think it’s good for my health. It’s good for their health socially, mentally. We’re just happy to be out there in any regards.”

After months of practicing with so many question marks regarding their season, the California Interscholastic Federation finally announced in February that outdoor sports could resume.

“I remember like we were all talking about it in our group chat just like being really excited about it.”

Heading into her senior year, Pomeroy says she is going to think about the days she spent working endlessly in practice and make sure to appreciate every moment she has left as a Foothill Knight.

“I really just want to have fun. Like, since we didn’t get a season last year, I’m totally not going to take it for granted this time. I’m just really excited to, you know, play with the people that I’ve been playing with for so long again.”

Pomeroy’s lacrosse journey won’t end here, though. She will be playing Division 1 lacrosse for the University of Cincinnati and cannot wait to become a Bearcat.

“Being introduced to a whole new team is always fun, even though it’s always scary just because you get to, you know, experience an entire new dynamic. And I love my coaches, too, in the university itself.”

Her love for sprinting down the field and scoring goals kept Pomeroy motivated to practice in a year full of ups and downs. While waiting for confirmation that they could have a season was not fun, Pomeroy learned to value the connection she has with her teammates and to appreciate all the moments she has on the field.