Saint Francis athletics springs into action

by Ava Malae (’24) | March 29, 2021

Photo by Riley Walukiewicz (’24)

Saint Francis athletics recently were able to begin their seasons for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Athletic Director Michael Pilawski explained that starting sports this year was not an easy process. “There was just a lot of guidance from the state of California and our county, in particular, to get people underway,” Pilawski said. “I felt like our plans were changing every week, or sometimes almost every day.”

With no competitions taking place, student-athletes found it difficult to practice their sport and improve their playing. However, Saint Francis held pre-season workouts earlier this year in accordance with state and county guidelines, and some players trained on their own, making the most of a difficult situation. “This COVID ‘off-season’ has made it tough to keep up with training and practicing, but I’ve found ways to safely work out outdoors or in socially distanced areas,” said varsity volleyball player Soana Leaea (’21). “I’ve been very fortunate to be able to keep up with my own physical activity while many athletes haven’t been able to. Although this was a pause for many people, it has been a time of improvement and progress for me personally.” 

Once Saint Francis was cleared to compete, first season sports started quickly to allow student-athletes to play as much as possible. Pilawski says that the school continues to comply with state and county guidelines so that players can compete safely. “We are doing our best to understand the guidance and then translate it to students and families so that people understand it,” he says. 

The lack of athletics has been difficult for student-athletes, as competitions provide the opportunity for players to work as a team to reach a common goal. “Once COVID hit, I wasn’t able to race in any competitions and practice with my friends for a while which was a real challenge, especially because they help push me to work hard,” said Owen Kato (’22), who runs on the varsity cross country team. “During the ‘off-season’ it has made time for me to reflect on what sports is about, which is teamwork. It was super hard training by myself in the off-season but it made me realize how important teamwork is.”

This time off has not only been difficult for players, but it has also been difficult for coaches. “It’s been challenging for us too,” said head varsity football coach Greg Calcagno (’83). “We miss the players, we miss each other as coaches, and just that whole effort to work together for a common goal.”

Athletics provide a social aspect that COVID has disrupted. For Leaea, COVID has not only changed her athletic season, but it has also changed her senior year at Saint Francis. “It’s definitely been tough to adjust to this senior year because all senior athletes had so many plans for their seasons,” she said. “I’d say the biggest challenge is coming to terms that we will not have a perfect senior year we waited for, but there are still a lot of good things and positives that we can find in the year.”

Categories: News, Sports

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