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Magazine Sport Volume 70, Issue 7

Let Them Play: A Good Cause

By Kate Rider

Graphic By Jennifer Notman

It’s easy to say the COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult on everyone. People have lost their jobs, kids have started to fall behind in school, equity gaps have grown, but a slightly less-talked about aspect has been student athletes. Sports seasons across the country were cancelled because of the pandemic back in 2020, and since then, student athletes have been buzzing to get back together and be able to compete again. Cancelled sports seasons have caused many more problems than just no high school games; juniors and seniors are missing out on playing games with scouts in the bleachers, the mental health of student athletes declined, kids who would normally be in school or at sports practice are getting into more trouble and more.

It didn’t take long for students, parents and coaches to start advocating for getting kids back into competitive sports. Let Them Play Foundation, a foundation dedicated to give funding for kids’ sports programs that need it and to raise awareness for the “plight of inactivity facing our children” and founded by Eric Byrne, inspired several groups to form in many states to fight to get competitive sports back started in schools. 

Since then, these groups have held rallies, campaigns, and more to move forward with sports. The Let Them Play CA group has filed several lawsuits against Governor Gavin Newsom, and the first lawsuit from San Diego settled on March 8 with the agreement to allow outdoor and indoor sports to restart with testing protocols.

So, good news for kids across California who’ve been waiting for months and months on end to get back into sports. But is it?

I believe it’s extremely important for kids to get back into school for many of the reasons that the Let Them Play groups have mentioned, for the sake of student athletes’ mental health, their futures and other factors. But there’s a reason Newsom had his tier system set up in the first place. Yes, all sports are equal in that all their student athletes are suffering without the programs, but not all sports are equally safe to play in current pandemic restrictions. Saying that sports like tennis, an outdoor sport with little to no contact between players, should open at the same time and have the same restrictions as sports like basketball, an indoor sport with high amounts of contact between two teams of over 5 kids on a court at once, is impractical and a fallacy with current COVID-19 conditions and restrictions. 

Both options aren’t ideal for student athletes who are just trying to complete their high school seasons, but in the middle of a deadly global pandemic, sometimes we just have to choose between bad and worse options. The best thing we can do is choose the option that best protects our children and our community at large and do the best we can to make it through the rest of it all right.

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Magazine Sport Volume 70, Issue 7

Las Lomas Boys Golf Is Back In Business

By Charlie Pentland

Graphic By Jane Wilson

Golf is often seen as a sport primarily enjoyed by older, retired people. However, with a new generation of younger golfers in high school, the game is now more widely spread. With the 2020 pandemic bringing most team sports to a halt, golf on a professional and amateur level has been able to resume before any other major team sport. This includes Las Lomas’s very own golf team, who has been able to practice since February.

While Las Lomas golf isn’t usually talked about when talking about LL sports, there are still a group of hardworking student-athletes who are dedicated to their sport the same way everyone else who plays a sport at Las Lomas is. One of these individuals is sophomore Cameron Malone. Malone began playing on the golf team with his brother Cian this year, and both said they’re enjoying it. When asked about being on the golf team, Cameron mentioned, “This year is actually my first year on the golf team, and I have enjoyed it a lot so far. It’s one of the sports that was really easy to play with COVID, so it hasn’t affected us [much] at all.” As mentioned previously, Las Lomas golf has been able to practice for their upcoming season since mid-February. Golf is allowed to be played under the most extreme measures of restrictions set up by the CIF.

With the boy’s golf team season already underway, Cameron has already played 3 matches. “The matches are basically usually held at Boundary Oaks or sometimes at other courses; [it] depends on the team we’re playing. Six players are chosen to play in the match from each team and 4 players (2 from each team) will go out in a group. You’ll play 9 holes and the lowest score of the 2 teams combined at the end wins.” Las Lomas’s “home course” is the Boundary Oaks Golf Course. Boundary Oaks is a public municipal golf course in Walnut Creek. Malone also mentions his practices are also held at this 18-hole course. “Our practices are held at Boundary Oaks Monday-Thursday and usually consist of some days on the driving range and other days on the course. We usually have 1-2 matches a week,” Malone further mentioned.

 Las Lomas Boys Golf is a member of the Diablo Foothill League, which is home to other schools such as Acalanes, Northgate, Campolindo and a few others. Las Lomas historically has been exceptional at golf taking home the league championship in 2019.

Brother of Cameron Malone, Cian, is a junior at Las Lomas who is also on the golf team. When asked about the expectations he and his teammates share for the season, he commented by saying, “The expectations for the golf team were to continue from the past 2 seasons. Coming off of an undefeated season in 2019 and only getting a couple of games in from 2020, the team wanted to keep the winning mentality going. Bringing in a lot of newcomers, returning players made sure to lead them and get them in on the winning mentality. This season has been going good so far, and we hope we can continue to make a strong push in the league and the postseason.” With expectations high with a healthy mix of returning varsity players and plenty of new ones, the Knights continue to push on through a rough 0-3 start.

With months of prior preparation before the season began, Las Lomas hopes to capture another league title with a dedicated group of guys. It’s easy to see that this group knows a lot about determination, as they’ve been practicing while in the midst of a major global pandemic. Even so, the road will not be easy for them, as they’re starting the season with an 0-3 record. They have until just April to turn things around.

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Magazine Sport Volume 70, Issue 9

Covid’s Impact on the End of the Sports Year

By Adam Tarr

As the Las Lomas school years start to come to a close, so do the various Las Lomas sports team’s seasons. This year’s sports season has been majorly impacted by COVID-19 in every way imaginable. From the postponement of the entire season to the postponement of individual games, the season has been filled with nothing short of uncertainty and surprises.

The high school sports season in California was like one we have never seen before. The season for most teams was pushed back until at least late January because of COVID-19. The actual length of the season was also much shorter, in time, than a normal season. That’s also why there are a lot of sports that are still playing or that ended recently out of season. Sports like soccer saw a major shift in the timing of their season. “It [feels] really weird to play the season so late in the year because I’m used to playing high school soccer in the winter,” said Steffie Wong, a senior on the girls varsity soccer team. 

Many teams have dealt with the effects of COVID-19 whether it is through precautions or game postponements. If COVID-19 cases popped up within a sports team, contact tracing was one of the methods used to stop the spread of COVID-19 and to assess the COVID-19 risk of the team. “Once we identified that a player [tested positive for COVID-19], contact tracing was conducted, and it was determined that we needed to suspend the last week of the season,” said Kurt Atkins, Boys Varsity Soccer coach at Las Lomas. As we approach the end of the year, many teams have started to wrap up their season. Teams such as the boys JV and varsity boys Las Lomas soccer teams ended or completed their season. Both these teams were outstanding with the JV team ending with a record of 11-0 in comparison to the varsity team which ended at 9-1-1. There are also teams whose season is still in progress. The boys varsity basketball team still has their whole season to play in May. Other teams such as varsity baseball and girls varsity soccer are in the middle of their season. 

Although the season was short and hectic, many student-athletes would agree that they were happy to participate in their sports even if it was just for a month or two. We can expect next year to look mostly normal in comparison to this year.

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Magazine Sport Volume 70, Issue 9

The Fan’s Perspective of Returning to Pro Games

By Brennan Dumesnil-Vickers

Graphic By Rin Boegel

For a little over half a year now, fans have been allowed to return to professional sporting events. When sports returned after the world was put on pause in March 2020, they did so without fans in attendance, something that was unheard of in the sporting world and was hard for players and fans to get used to. But in the past few months, fans have finally been able to return to games. For example, the Golden State Warriors started letting fans into their home arena, Chase Center, for the first time in over a year, on April 23 against the Denver Nuggets. Chase Center is allowing up to 35% capacity with requirement of proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within 48 hours prior to the game, per an article on nba.com.

I attended the Warriors game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on May 8. It was my first Warriors game ever and first pro sports game since the pandemic first hit. They actually send the test to your house and you can take it at home, which I thought was really cool. The area outside the arena and the corridors inside were a bit crowded before the game and at halftime, but it wasn’t too worrisome because everyone was wearing a mask at all times like they were supposed to. Eating and drinking were only allowed in designated areas and not at your seat and ordering was completely contactless and could be done through an app, which I liked a lot, because of both convenience and safety, and I hope that’s something that’s kept even after the pandemic. Overall, I think the Warriors and Chase Center did a great job with safety, and the Warriors won 136-97 behind a crowd that was so loud that it sounded like a sellout, so it was a great experience and I’m looking forward to going to another game.

Las Lomas junior Nina Statler attended the Warriors game on May 6, also against the Thunder, and was willing to share her thoughts.“I haven’t been to a game in a while but it didn’t feel super different with limited capacity,” Statler said in an interview. “I felt super comfortable there as I have both my vaccine shots. I was really glad that they were serving food even though they charge $7 for one soda. If I have the opportunity I will definitely go to another game!”

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Magazine Sport Volume 70, Issue 8

The Return of Sports at Las Lomas

By Dominic Gewecke

For this last quarter of the school year, sports have finally been allowed to have a season. Just recently, many women’s sports have been starting their seasons such as volleyball, softball, soccer, lacrosse and more. Sports are very important to many women at Las Lomas. When asking three student athletes at Las Lomas how significant this season is to them, and how they expect their team to do, we have their thoughts to share.

Melisa Saindon, a sophomore softball player, said, “The season is pretty important to me because it’s good to go out and play other teams. I’m really excited to play again, especially since Corona made all sports stop and what I expect from my team this season is teamwork and to have fun.” Sabrina Mintz, a sophomore volleyball player, said, “This [the season] is very important to me because it got postponed for so long. I am very excited to play, and I expect my team to do pretty well this season.” Sydney Haworth, a sophomore lacrosse player, said, “This season was important to be because with the pandemic going on it gave me something to look forward to in regards to seeing my friends and getting out of the house. I was very excited to play because I wanted to see what it was going to be like moving forward in sports. I expect my team to be very excited about the season and have a lot of energy toward playing well.”

After reading the interviews, you may notice how the responses from each student were very similar, such as how this season felt important because it was constantly getting postponed, or how they all expect their team to have positive chemistry together for a good season.

The excitement from many people because of sports opening back up is really understandable when thinking about how much this pandemic has affected so many people around the world in many different ways. With vaccine distribution up and COVID-19 cases going down, many events have opened back up or are close to opening back up, which is a really important thing for so many people. For different people, sports are a hobby and a stress reliever. Sports finally opening back up at Las Lomas is another step on the road to life going back to normal.

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Magazine Sport Volume 70, Issue 8

The Return of Las Lomas Sports

By: Adam Tarr

When the AUHSD announced the closing of all schools in the district last March, sports paused with it. Now, over a year later, we are finally seeing sports not only start practicing again, but competing against other schools. With that, there comes a lot of questions about the rules and ways to participate. Unfortunately, there are a lot of things that are unclear, but there are also a lot of things we know.

 For most sports, the regular season has been cut down drastically. In addition, the CIF and NCS championships for most sports have been canceled this year. Some teams have also not started their seasons at the time of writing this article. Those are mostly indoor sports or COVID-risky sports such as Boys Varsity Basketball, which will start playing games soon.

Although sports are returning, it does not change the fact that we are in a pandemic. This means there are strict guidelines that the Las Lomas sports teams must adhere to. One of the common ways teams are handling the virus is the use of ComanyNurse, a daily symptoms screening, and strict mask rules. “As soon as [they] get out of a car in the parking lot, they’re supposed to be masked. And the mask requirement is in place the entire time they’re on campus…” Kurt Adkins, the Boys Varsity Soccer coach, said. Some teams have different ways of dealing with COVID. According to Mr. Attaran, a coach on the Track and Field team, the Track and Field team practices in pods in which each section of the team is divided. 

Fan attendance is one of the unclear things about the return to sports at the moment. As of writing this article, most sports are only allowed to have close family members at games. This is subject to change and it’s possible that we see fans back in the near future. 

Now that teams are back, they are also competing against other teams. Each of the Las Lomas boys soccer teams have been outstanding so far. The Boys JV Soccer team is sitting at 9-0 to start their season. The Boys Varsity Soccer team has continued their success from the previous season currently sitting at a record of 9-1-1. Kurt Atkins, the head coach of the team, said, “I personally think it’s the best team we’ve had, [at least in the last] nine years…” The Las Lomas Varsity Football team has struggled throughout their first four games, currently sitting at 1-4.

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Magazine Sport Volume 70, Issue 8

Checking in on Las Lomas Softball

By Brennan Dumesnil-Vickers

Sports are finally back at Las Lomas, and among those sports returning is softball. It’s not fully back to normal, as Coach Michael McEwen said in an interview: “We don’t really have any NCS, we don’t have any All-Elite, so it’s just getting out and playing and having fun, setting standards for next year.” But sports are sports, and it was great to be back at a game.

On April 19, the Knights played a very energetic Carondelet team, and despite it being a home game, the spectators were mainly Carondelet fans, who were just as if not more energetic than the team. Despite losing 13-10, there were still highlights for the Knights.

Catcher Melisa Saindon was the offensive player of the game for the Knights, as she ripped a two-run double into left field in the first inning, and followed it up with a two-run home run in the seventh and last inning, the only long ball of the game for the Knights. She finished with 5 runs batted in in total. “My goal is always to hit the best I can, to hit the hardest I can,” Saindon said in a postgame interview. “I wasn’t really expecting that, but…it’s always my goal to hit at least one home run.”

Center fielder Susi Sandoval had a great game on both sides of the field. She had two hits and stole two bases, but her big moment came in the top of the seventh inning, when she reached well over the fence in left-center field to rob a three-run home run, and then started the relay throw back to Hannah Pell at first base to double up a runner and end the inning; far and away the defensive play of the day for the Las Lomas. “I thought I was [going to catch it],” she said in a postgame interview. “I knew it was gonna be over [the fence], but I thought I was gonna get it, so I just went for it.”

Mia Hanson (second base) and Maddie Murphy (shortstop) also got two hits and a run batted in respectively, but it was ultimately not enough for the varsity softball Knights, as Carondelet hard-throwing left-handed pitcher Gabby Bush outdueled Las Lomas pitcher Rylinn Gull and netted the Knights a tough loss. But all things considered, this was a very solid showing, even if the result was less than ideal, and our softball team proved that they are not to be counted out.

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Magazine Sport Volume 70, Issue 8

Athlete’s Input on Return to Baseball

By Andrew Francois

After nearly a yearlong hiatus, the Las Lomas Baseball Team returned to a normal schedule of games and practices this month. 11th-grade student and member of the Las Lomas Varsity Baseball Team Joey Rusca spoke to me about the past year and the excitement of returning to the diamond.

Like all school sports last year, the baseball season came to an abrupt end with the dawn of COVID lockdowns. “I was bummed out and disappointed that we got shut down basically as soon as we got started, but many of us still found ways to get better by working out and practicing on our own time,” said Rusca. “I just continued to work hard and improve my game as often as I could.” 

Rusca, one of the team’s catchers, said, “Over the last year I was looking to improve my leadership skills as well as my communication skills, and making sure everyone is on the same page and where they’re supposed to be. The spring season officially started on April 5th and the team couldn’t have been more excited. It had been over a year since we last played a game on our field and put on those jerseys, so we were beyond happy to be able to go out and play once again.”

The return after a yearlong absence was predictably not without a bit of lag. “With us being gone as a team for so long because of COVID, it took some time to gain our momentum back,” Rusca said, “but we eventually did, and started working together and getting back on track.” Rusca also shed some light on the team’s mentality going into this year’s season, and said, “I think the team is most looking forward to just playing again and showcasing all of the hard work we’ve put in. There’s going to be a little bit of nervousness for sure, but when the games start we just have to stay true to ourselves and have fun doing it.”

The team has a busy schedule going into the end of April, and is slated to play Alhambra, Bishop O’Dowd, Pinole Valley, Acalanes, and Ygnacio Valley by the end of the month. May will be likewise busy for the team, with four games scheduled per week.

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Magazine Sport Volume 70, Issue 8

Swimming Safely

By Kylie Deng

Throughout the pandemic, sports have slowly weaved their way back to hosting proper practices and some to hosting proper meets and games. One example is a local recreational swim team known as Walnut Creek Swim Club. During the pandemic the team has hosted a fall and a spring clinic to the public in place of regular practices. The team has been doing well, Head Coach Amanda Sheehan said, “We’re doing alright! It’s so hard when we are a team of such history and tradition to not gather together in big groups and celebrate each other. We’ve been able to connect in small clinic groups and keep up with swimming but I am eager to start social events this summer as restrictions hopefully ease!” The team is holding up as time goes on, adapting to the rules placed on social distancing and applying it to the pool swimmers and spectators.

Compared to other swim teams, WCSC resides at Larkey Pool to host their clinics and meets. Even though social distancing hinders their practice and procedures, Larkey Pool is the biggest pool in the league, allowing more swimmers to participate throughout the pandemic. Capacity restrictions have limited lanes to only allow three swimmers per lane compared to a practice that sometimes needs four to five people per lane pre-pandemic. Several lanes allow kids ages six to eighteen to swim three times a week. Another hindrance that the pandemic has caused is meeting up outside of meets and practice to host fun events for the younger swimmers to play and connect with the older swimmers on the team. Currently the rules are much less strict as groups of twenty are allowed to swim together compared to the small number of twelve swimmers in the past clinic. 

As clinics are replacements for practice, the team is preparing to have a proper swim meet around the month of May if possible as the social distancing rules change and let up. Sheehan also said, “We are planning as if everything is happening! Obviously we will follow all safety protocols that are released, but as of now, we are hopeful with all the vaccinations that we will have a semi-normal season!” The coaches along with parent volunteers are working hard on providing the supplies and funds for the planning of future meets. So as time goes on, WCSC is preparing for a safe and exciting swim season for the summer of 2021 for all its participating swimmers.

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Magazine Sport Volume 70, Issue 7

Waterpolo Plans During Covid

By Kylie Deng

Women’s water polo is one of the many Las Lomas sports that has been discussed about reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the spread of the coronavirus has lowered, all sports have been constantly given news and information involving the rules and regulations the CIF has set up to ensure a safe playing environment. Women’s water polo has had another thought for the season involving the NCS Championships for the fall school year of 2021-2022. The North Coast Section Championships involve teams from across California in addition to Las Lomas. Teams including surrounding local high schools, Acalanes, Campolindo and Miramonte in the first out of the two divisions. 

The junior varsity coach for women’s water polo, Amanda Sheehan, said,  “We have a schedule, we have to take certain precautions based on what tiers we’re in. If we’re not into the orange tier we might have to make sure we’re spacing out and not share equipment.” As stated, the Las Lomas team is preparing for the possibility of players getting back into the water and have started getting ready for next season. In person practices are not fully confirmed but a set schedule has been released for this year. 

Another large part of how COVID-19 affects the water polo schedule is the fact that water polo is a very high contact sport. “We keep getting new information and easing up a little bit on protocols. I know for the past six months, they’ve been doing camps, which is a maximum of 12 kids usually and they can’t share equipment, obviously you can’t wear a mask in the water…since in water polo there’s a lot of contact,” Coach Mandy described when talking about the behind the scenes of getting practices set up. 

As COVID-19 has not properly ended with everyone still in their homes, sports still have many rules when reopening. When asked about what procedures the team will potentially have to follow and the problems of social distancing, Coach Mandy said, “When we want to do drills and we want to get better at things, it’s such a physical sport…the whole game you’re touching someone, you’re making sure you’re in good positioning, you have to know where they [opposing team members] are. So there’s huge obstacles with having to social distance right now, not to mention we can’t scrimmage against other teams because we have to wait for that to be passed.” The Las Lomas women’s water polo team is excited to have a proper season this year, the coaches are working hard for the upcoming practices for the year and if COVID-19 lets up, the team will eventually be able to play against other schools in the near future.