Adapting to practicing softball through a computer screen

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Contributed by Sienna Kunze

Junior Autumn Kunze practices for her upcoming softball season.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we all do daily activities. However, thanks to some creative planning by Coach Todd Rogers and others, the softball team is not missing a beat. In fact, the softball players are virtually hard at work. Online classes for physical education are difficult and are an area of uncharted territory for both players and coaches alike. 

Rogers developed a system by which the players are assigned various workouts such as weights, cardio, and strength workouts, where the players can complete activities such as going on runs or lift weights. Coach Laynee Gomez, who is an assistant coach for the Varsity team said, “Typically it is 2 days of cardio and 3 days of lifting. The girls are able to choose their course of action, but need all five workouts done by Sunday each week.” 

The coaches created workouts that can be done by everyone, even those without equipment. Many creative innovations have been suggested for girls lacking equipment such as “do it yourself” weights made from sand-filled plastic bags and milk cartons. The girls are able to work at their own pace and decide what they want to do and what best matches their abilities. Girls who have had softball weights before and have access to workout equipment, can follow the regiments that they previously did in class. Girls that are new to weights can ease into the routine and push themselves, safely. 

Another concern with the online class is the safety of the players. Usually, coaches are there to assist in the weights room and on the field. This helps to ensure that players are doing a workout the right way and are being cautious. However, the coaches are strong advocates for the safety of their students and dictate how to safely do the workouts in the online meetings.    

The class gathers on Google Meets every other day during fifth period to discuss the different workouts and interact with one another. Gomez runs the Google meetings and assigns other work such as letters of gratitude and projects designed to help the girls get to know each other. 

The team’s chemistry may not be as strong as it usually is, but the coaches are actively working on making everyone feel comfortable with one another. The girls have gotten assignments like “Two Truths and a Lie” and created videos for the interactive app, Flipgrid

During the in-school softball locker, players visit the weight room, run on the track, and practice softball skills under the guidance of coaches. Normally coaches are on-hand and able to assist when needed, so practicing through Google Classroom has required many adaptions. The coaches have to trust that the players are doing the workouts, and preparing for the season.   

Considering the unique nature of the class, teachers and players have had to adapt and learn in a different way than usual. Junior, Autumn Kunze said, “I don’t like that I can’t see my teammates since we’re not in school. It’s been hard to adjust to the online format of school.” Another player, Madison Brandon said, “I enjoy the flexibility of virtual locker but it is more responsibility on us. We are made accountable for what we do and when we do it”. The girls are not able to spend time with each other as they usually are, but the players and coaches are optimistic for the season that will hopefully be played in the spring.