How Senior Spring Sport Athletes Are Dealing With the Loss of Their Season

Ariana Wu, Staff Writer

Since Portola High has been declared closed through the end of the 2019-2020 school year, seniors have been struggling to deal with the harsh reality that the milestones they have awaited since childhood (graduation, prom, their final last day of school) may not happen. 

For athletes who have dedicated years to a sport and patiently waited for their spring season, this news was particularly painful.

“I’ve been playing tennis since I was six years old and watched my brothers play,” senior Taira Asakura said. “This year we were undefeated and seated #1 in division 2, but COVID-19 shattered all my dreams of going to CIF with my team. I had no words.”

Many athletes formed their closest friendships on the field, including senior Sol Ibañez, who transferred to Portola High as a junior and said she is thankful for the role her friends on the lacrosse team have played in shaping her high school experience. 

“I was really sad when I heard the news since it was my last chance to finish off my high school experience,” Ibañez said. “We were winning a lot of our games; league was gonna be really good, and I ended up being really close friends with a bunch of the girls on my team. On the last day of school, we all just huddled by my car and cried.”

Seniors have spent their last four years building Portola High’s athletics reputation from the ground up.

“I’ve been a captain, so we had to adapt a lot and make deal with what we had since no one had ever played lacrosse,” senior Elias Tchapadarian said.“The sport wasn’t really a big deal over here until this year where lacrosse really started to grow.” 

Although they are unable to finish off their high school experiences the way they imagined, the athletes will carry the lessons their sports have taught them far beyond the campus.

“Being on the swim team taught me how to empathize with people, specifically to get to know them outside of who they are as a swimmer. It’s pretty easy to judge someone based on how fast they are and what you see quantitatively,” co-captain and senior Eden Yeh said. “Portola swim has taught me that everyone on the team brings value, but the value you provide is based on your loyalty and ability to work with others.”

The athletes have refused to let go of the bonds they formed over the past four years, holding their teammates closer than ever during this discouraging period.

“We made a group chat of all the swim teams, so no matter if you’re in varsity, junior varsity, open, we all just wanna be there for each other right now,” Yeh said. “In the past couple of days, we’ve been sending pictures from previous swim events and reflecting on how much we’ve grown.” 

Coaches and athletes alike preach the qualities that playing a high school sport develops: drive, discipline and adaptability. In the midst of a global pandemic where a critical component of their lives has been stripped away, the athletes’ perseverance and positive outlook have come to light. 

As they head off to college, the seniors are hopeful that juniors and underclassmen will continue building their legacy. 

“We should all try to be positive about this turnaround,” volleyball player and senior Nolan Nam said. “We’ve had the opportunity to play for this lovely school for four years and shouldn’t take it for granted. We play this sport to teach younger players to be better than us. I trust the athletes to do well in sports next year and wish everyone the best. Play hard in practice and games, and the turnout will be good.”