GREEN RIVER – Students across the nation are put in an unprecedented situation because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
They are forced to ditch their backpacks and pick up a laptop to finish their studies online, which can be a challenge and a burden.
For student-athletes, staying active and in shape is even more of a challenge because they no longer have easy access to their coaches and the facilities the school has to offer.
On Friday, April 17, Sweetwater County School District No. 2 made the decision to close the doors of the schools and have the remainder of the semester online. Green River High School student-athletes have adapted, but the impact of not having access to the school’s facilities, coaches and other perks still lingers.
For the senior class, they won’t have a prom nor will they have a traditional graduation – something they would have cherished and remembered for the rest of their lives. Some had their spring season canceled because of the virus, which was something they had prepared for over the last four years.
Seniors Madelyn Heiser, Ashelynn Birch, Drew Gibson and Mariyah Brady, along with juniors James King, Jachob Fuss and Clayson Mele, and sophomore Dylan Taylor spoke to the Rocket Miner newspaper about how they’re making the most out of a difficult situation.
“The biggest challenge is adjusting to class instruction virtually. It is difficult not being able to interact with my classmates and teachers in person,” said Heiser, who played volleyball and basketball for the Wolves.
“I miss the simple things that I once took for granted like walking through the halls with my friends on our way to class, or saying, ‘Hi,’ to my underclassmen.”
Heiser, who will be playing basketball for Sheridan College in the fall, said she has been staying active by lifting weights at home, running, shooting hoops and enjoying time with her family by going on walks and bike rides.
Birch, who also played volleyball and basketball, said the biggest challenge about having to do her schoolwork online is finding the motivation.
“I miss seeing all my friends at school. Not being able to hang out with them has been weird. I also miss being able to have in person instruction from teachers. It’s been weird having to learn online,” said Birch, who will be playing basketball at Utah State University Eastern in the fall.
“Also, I am pretty bummed about not being able to do the normal senior things like walk around the elementary schools in our caps and gowns, have our senior send-off assembly and have a traditional graduation ceremony.”
Birch has also been staying active by playing basketball with her brother in the driveway and working out every day at her house. She said she uses a weights program and runs on the treadmill.
Gibson, who participated in golf, cross country, basketball and track during his time at the high school, said people in Green River are lucky to have a plethora of outdoor trails to stay busy.
“Green River is very fortunate to have the beautiful Greenbelt Pathway that stretches all over town. I run on it quite often and it spans a couple miles, which is nice to help individuals practice social distancing,” he said.
But there are hurdles that Gibson has had to jump over without being able to attend class normally.
“The biggest challenge for me right now is definitely understanding subjects in great detail,” he said. “In some of my classes I have to rely on YouTube and emails to teach me.”
For Brady, online school is the normal. She has been taking her classes virtually since seventh grade, but that still doesn’t mean she’s not impacted from the semester being shutdown physically.
“Of course I was bummed there won’t be prom and finishing out sports,” said Brady, who played volleyball, basketball, ran indoor and outdoor track, along with playing softball. “My friends and I had planned on going to prom in one big girls group since it was our last. We had already got our dresses and then was told it was canceled.”
King said the most difficult part about the quarantine is not having a steady routine.
“This makes it hard to be consistent in exercising and to maintain an undeviating sleep schedule,” said King, who plays football and soccer at Green River.
“Not being around classmates takes away the key aspect of peer-criticism that helps us grow and improve every day. Moreover, being at school provides the social interaction that we have been deprived of for several weeks now.”
He still has found ways to stay active and in shape to get ready for the 2020 football season.
“The first is a series of workouts provided by our football program in order to make sure all of the players are ready for the season this fall. Also, there are a variety of workouts to do online that are quick and rewarding if finished. With the weather warming up, it is becoming easier to run outside as well,” he said.
Fuss, who plays football, basketball and soccer, echoed King that not having set-in-stone schedule is difficult.
“At school we go to the same seven classes each day and now work is coming in from each class at different rate,” he said.
“Being away from all of my classmates has been hard because we now have to change the way we interact. Being away from classmates and teammates makes me appreciate the friendships that I have formed through sports and school, and all of the memories we have together.”
Without the weight room at the high school, Fuss has been using dumbbells at home for his bodyweight workouts and has begun running more to enhance his endurance.
Mele, a wrestler and two-time state champion, has been doing simple workouts from home to stay in shape. He does 100 push-ups and 100 sit-ups daily, and has been going on bike rides both stationary and outside.
“It sucks not seeing everyone at school,” he said. “I really miss my friends.”
Taylor, who plays football, basketball and runs track, has been focusing on becoming a more explosive athlete.
“I have been playing basketball at a local hoop, running, going to lift at the weight room in my house and just doing body weight exercises to strengthen my fast twitch muscles,” he said, adding that the most difficult part about not being able to attend school is not laughing and hanging out with friends.
While having school canceled for the remainder of the school year, the student-athletes at Green River are remaining positive. With plenty of uncertainty in the world lately, they continue to persevere through their studies and look forward to what the future holds.