Spring sports kick off

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Varsha Rammohan

Jessica Zhou (10) prepares to hit a bunker shot at a practice round at Cinnabar Hills Golf Club last week. Following the upper school’s safety protocols for athletes, players are required to wear masks and social distance at all times.

Despite a delayed start to their seasons, due to the surge of COVID-19 cases in Santa Clara County during the winter, upper school athletes in cross country, football, girls golf and girls tennis are currently attending in-person practices and preparing for Harker’s first sports competitions in almost a year.

The upper school has mandated that athletes are to be tested every two weeks for COVID-19, either on campus with a saliva test or elsewhere with a PCR test. Before arriving to practice everyday, athletes must also complete a set of coronavirus screening questions on the Magnus Mobile app to ensure safety and minimize any risk of exposure or spread.

Since Jan. 19, the cross country team has maintained a hybrid format for their practices. Although head coach Mia Purnell leads a small group of runners in-person, many have opted to continue with remote workouts. After warming up all together on Zoom, they use the fitness app Strava when they go on runs to keep track of their progress.

“It’s a completely different experience when running, because usually you wouldn’t want to stop because all your friends are running next to you. Now you have to really reach within and find intrinsic motivation to keep you going,” cross country co-captain Jason Lin (12) said. “I think a lot of people have started breaking distance records, so it’s cool to see people find all this will.”

It’s a completely different experience when running, because usually you wouldn’t want to stop because all your friends are running next to you. Now you have to really reach within and find intrinsic motivation to keep you going.”

— Jason Lin (12)

The team competed in their first meet last Saturday, going up against The King’s Academy and Notre Dame. Their season is scheduled to end on March 19, and they will not be participating in playoffs this year.

Girls golf kicked off their season last Monday with practice rounds at San Jose Municipal Golf Course and Cinnabar Hills Golf Club. All golfers are required to wear masks and social distance at all times, and the team is trying to play as many different courses around the Bay Area before their first match next week. They played at Santa Teresa Golf Club today, with practice at Cinnabar Hills tomorrow, Moffett Field Golf Club on Wednesday and San Jose Municipal Golf Course on Friday. 

“I look forward to spending time with the girls again, meeting the new golfers and working on our game,” junior Andrea Thia said. “With no fall season, not seeing my teammates and practicing alone felt a little discouraging, but I’m really grateful we have an in-person season ahead of us.”

Before the girls tennis team began practicing last Monday on Blackford campus, senior Fonda Hu experienced a similar feeling of anticipation, describing the announcement of her season as a “happy surprise.”

“Most of us haven’t touched a racket in a while, so there were a lot of things to get used to,” she said. “But after the first few days, everyone was back in their comfort zone, and it pretty much felt like normal, other than [the safety precautions].”

In addition to filling out the daily questionnaires on Magnus, the players are required to get their temperatures checked before every practice, wear a glove on their non-dominant hands and remain masked at all times. During drills, they only play in singles matches to stay as socially distanced as possible, but regardless of these changes, practices still resemble those from before the COVID-19 outbreak.

“In my opinion, I don’t believe that there has been much of a change in the way that we’re preparing for the season, because most of our playing is basically just how we would play in matches,” Fonda said. “[Practices] are sticking to normal circumstances, in that regard.”

The girls tennis season kicked off last Monday, with two-hour practices, four days a week. The team follows strict safety protocols: they are required to get their temperatures checked before every practice, wear a glove on their non-dominant hands and remain masked at all times. (Provided by Fonda Hu)

The varsity football season officially started yesterday and is scheduled to end on March 27 without playoffs. While the team is planning to organize intrasquad scrimmages, it is still unclear whether they can host games against other schools.

The swimming season will begin on March 8, followed by track and field season on March 15 and boys golf and boys tennis on April 5. Following CIF guidelines, if the county moves into the red tier before March 15, girls lacrosse and softball will also kick off within the next two weeks.

For more information on how to register to play a sport, see the form here. Reach out to Director of Sports Medicine and Sports Performance Jaron Olson or upper school athletic director Dan Molin for specific questions.

Additional reporting by Vishnu Kannan.