The first “back to normal” school year since the COVID-19 pandemic began is slowly wrapping up. Yearbooks are on sale, the senior Nerf wars are ending, and all the annual festivities like prom and graduation are drawing near. It almost feels “normal,” but do we even know what that is anymore?
In the beginning of the year, we were still masked up, socially distant, and the school day was divided into a three-lunch schedule to keep students apart. Then suddenly, no more masks. Life once again felt as if it were just ordinary. However, not all was as it seemed.
Students are still feeling the effects of a year and a half of solitude. Everyone changed somehow during quarantine; we are still trying to find ourselves, and the complexities of school don’t seem to help.
In classrooms, skills are being retaught since we’re still behind because of the “rona year.” Being told by teachers that they have to dumb down their lessons for us doesn’t help, especially when we’re all still drowning in work. However, for me there has been a light that has been a soothing balm, an elixir for the everyday grind: Athletics!
I can personally attest to the importance that sports play in mental health. Not only does the effort made in sports improve mental and physical health, for me it has also served as a mental break and become a source of confidence. I have swum and played water polo for three years now, and especially this year it has drastically improved my well-being. I practice or play six times a week, and that provides just about the right amount of time to escape the drama that is high school.
The Peninsula High School girls water polo team just finished our regular season with an undefeated record and the Division II West Champions title. We went on to take second place in the D-II championship after forfeiting a game so we could support a teammate at the memorial for her 13-year-old brother. As of this writing, we are on our way to state.
And we’re not the only ones: Fast pitch, baseball, boys soccer, girls golf, girls track and field, boys lacrosse and girls lacrosse all finished their seasons as league champions. Unified soccer, boys golf, boys track and field and girls tennis had pretty outstanding seasons too.
I feel that the success PHS athletes are showcasing this spring is a physical example of resilience and survival. It is as if athletes are pushing and fighting back to find footing as we move forward. Everything around us may have changed, but the feeling of physical exertion and sweat has not. It is a reminder of hard work and, yes, of escape.
Taking a step back into the views from a classroom, I feel as if I have lost not only motivation but overall confidence. I used to be the student who would volunteer to read out loud in class and would know the answer to every question. I now find myself sitting in the back of the room struggling to get my assignments done on time. Many people would say this is due to a newfound “laziness.” It’s more than that. It’s so hard to find the motivation to do things well when it’s taking all your energy just to be in a building surrounded by lots of negativity and few friends.
That attests to the importance of sports. If I can’t be the top notch student I’m expected to be, then I give the best I can in the pool where I’m surrounded by people who I know are going to give it everything they have too, and take our team all the way. It doesn’t matter what we’re doing, whether it’s a swim set, treading, or simple passing drills, we don’t let each other down.
Next year, my final year at PHS, I plan to be back in the pool, swimming a little closer back to “normal” every day.
Grace Nesbit is a junior at Peninsula High School. She lives in Lakebay.
Editor's Note: The PHS girls water polo team won sixth place in the state championship.
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