Coping with the pandemic from a student athlete’s perspective
As 2020 is about to come to an end, I can’t help but think about everything that happened this year, and the first thing that comes to mind — COVID-19. 2020 was not a great year for many of us and it’s one that will go down in history. The pandemic has led to many unexpected things for everyone, and it will surely leave a lasting impression on many communities, including the sports community.
2020 didn’t start out so great. It welcomed us with the Taal volcano eruption, the death of sports icon, Kobe Bryant, the Australian wildfires and more. As for me, I was on top of the world — focused on my last NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) season, playing football for my alma mater La Salle Greenhills, and of course my high school graduation and graduation ball.
Everything came crashing when the infamous COVID-19 struck. And just like that, it changed the world as we knew it. It affected many aspects of how we live. Because being in lockdown is not the answer, we have had to find ways to live with this virus through a “new normal”. Lifestyle adjustments had to be made to ensure that we remain safe and healthy — from education, travel, socialization, entertainment, sports, and more. One way or another, physically, mentally, or even emotionally, the virus has had an impact on every person’s life.
No thanks to COVID
In the beginning, we were all so consumed about this virus and how it could affect our physical health, but the more time passed, it also became a threat to emotional and mental health. Because I am an athlete, I am in great physical shape. But this pandemic started affecting me emotionally, especially when I missed major milestones such as my graduation, the football leagues and tournaments I was looking forward to joining one last time, and my graduation ball. Being a Lasallian student-athlete cultivates a certain sense of school pride, and it really hit me when I had to miss important events because of the virus.
For love of the game
Football has always been my first love. My dad played and so does my younger brother. My name is strongly associated with two things: football, La Salle or both. I’ve played for many teams, but playing for La Salle means everything to me, so much so that you will never see me donning any other school color.
In my 9 years of playing, I’ve experienced more wins than losses. I was in Grade 10 when I got into NCAA and I became hungrier than ever to play and win. I was eventually given the chance to be one of the team leaders in charge of motivating the team and pushing them to train and play harder.
When I heard that the NCAA’s 95th season was going to be canceled because of the pandemic, I was crushed because that would have been my last chance to win the NCAA championship for La Salle Greenhills. After finishing in third and second place in NCAA two years and one year prior, I made it my life’s mission to win the championship when I was a senior, right before I graduate. I worked double time to balance sports and academics, just to help lead the team to victory. We didn’t have a perfect pre-season, but my team and I trained hard, we gave it our all and we knew this would be the year. We were undefeated during the eliminations. The team’s morale was so high and we were so motivated, only to find out that we would never get to set foot on that pitch again. For me and my team who were on a roll and on such a high, losing the one thing we worked so hard for for years was a real nightmare.
The good in the bad
Nine months into the longest lockdown in the world, we have all gone through our own ups and downs. A lot of families have been hit hard financially, some may have lost loved ones or have gotten sick because of the virus, some are going through mental and emotional struggles. Whatever challenges you have been through, I feel for you. This year has been rough and there is no other way to put it.
But, as with everything in this world, there is always light in the dark, and out of every challenge is a blessing. When I realized there was nothing I could do to change what was happening, I took the time to focus and work on myself. Instead of looking back and feeling bad over what could have been, I looked forward to college football. I continued to train and prepare myself, and as a result, I am stronger and I feel that my football skills have gotten better as compared to at the start of the year. I learned to be resilient.
To all my fellow athletes and students, especially to the entire Class of 2020, regardless of what school you’re from, I’m sure you know what it felt like to keep waiting for decisions and announcements, just to be let down at the end. But know that even in rough times, there is always an opportunity, all you have to do is look for it. It’s up to you to take that opportunity turn it into something good. In this tunnel we call life, it might be dark right now, but when you keep moving, you will eventually see the light.
“A smooth sea never made a great sailor,” so despite all these adversities, we have to pick ourselves up and continue on. Only then will we find the silver lining.