A sport-less season: Wayland athletes opt out of fall sports

Senior Sophia Cvrk greets her teammates after a soccer game last fall. This fall, Cvrk isn't playing due to COVID-19 concerns.

Credit: Courtesy of Julia Raymond

Senior Sophia Cvrk greets her teammates after a soccer game last fall. This fall, Cvrk isn’t playing due to COVID-19 concerns. “My dad made it very clear he did not want me to play because it would be irresponsible, but he did not force me to not play,” Cvrk said. “I made the final call.”

This fall at Wayland High School, to the surprise of many, several sports are in full swing. For many WHS athletes, it is the first time in months that they can compete. Though many rejoice at the opportunity to play, a handful of athletes have decided to opt-out of the fall season due to various COVID-19 related concerns.

Soccer is one sport that is running competitively against other towns. Sophia Cvrk, a returning senior for the girls varsity soccer team, is looking to limit her possible coronavirus exposure. She, as well as her parents, had to think deeply about the risks involved in playing.

“My parents have been pretty upset about the fact that we can’t go to school, but we can still have sports,” Cvrk said. “Also, both my parents are in the medical field which makes my household a high-risk household. I didn’t think that it would be fair to put others in danger by playing a sport.”

For junior Alex Kotzampoltaris, the decision was rather easy to not play soccer this fall. He has family members that, if they catch COVID, have a higher chance of being seriously harmed.

“My dad is high risk due to being diabetic,” Kotzampoltaris said. “I have no desire to put my father in a weird situation or an unsafe one.”

Sports this year have undergone massive rule changes all around. Masks are mandatory, and contact is designed to be limited or completely taken away. The goal of these changes is to make fall sports as safe as possible.

“I don’t think playing sports this fall is unsafe,” senior Matt Najemy said. “While playing obviously comes with a risk, the new rules mitigate a large majority of it.”

Although the new rules do limit the possibility of an outbreak, participating against other towns heightens the risk. For this reason, Cvrk believes that it is unsafe to play.

“It isn’t smart to play with other towns,” Cvrk said. “If one person has COVID then that will result not only in a spike of cases, but it could cause outbreaks in multiple towns.”

Seniors all around the country have faced this difficult choice: to play or not to play. High school athletes look forward to their senior seasons for years before the actual moment.

“It was sad [that I couldn’t play] because I’ve looked forward to my senior season since freshman year,” Cvrk said. “I was excited to be a leader, but that didn’t happen, unfortunately.”

For other seniors, there is a silver lining: a chance to get ahead on important senior responsibilities.

“I didn’t mind not playing because I knew it would give me way more time to work on college applications,” Najemy said. “[They are] a huge time commitment and playing a sport takes a lot of time away from the process.”

Although there are athletes who aren’t playing their normal fall sports, many have found other ways of staying fit and active while being safe. For Kotzampoltaris, it is with a sport that is naturally socially distant: tennis.

“I play a great amount of tennis with my mom whenever possible, and I have taken a big liking to flipping and tricking,” Kotzampoltaris said.

For non-seniors, missing an entire season can be a setback for developing skills and experience at the high school level. Kotzampoltaris would like to continue playing soccer after COVID-19; however, he isn’t sure about whether he will be able to make the varsity team as a senior.

“Since I have skipped this year I don’t know about my chances for next year,” Kotzampoltaris said. “[It] is quite sad.”