Rising cases increase precautions

READY+TO+RUN%3A+Freshman+Riley+Thai+sprints+towards+the+soccer+ball%2C+scanning+the+field+to+determine+whether+to+dribble+the+ball+or+pass+it+to+her+teammate+during+a+practice+scrimmage.+

Adrian Chen

READY TO RUN: Freshman Riley Thai sprints towards the soccer ball, scanning the field to determine whether to dribble the ball or pass it to her teammate during a practice scrimmage.

Karen Wang, Staff Writer

Just as a sense of normalcy returned with weekly football games during the fall semester, the COVID-19 pandemic accompanied with the new omicron variant surged following winter break. Even with a sudden rise in cases within the local community, Northwood’s student-athletes are optimistic in ensuring a normal winter sports season. With over 100 cases in January, according to the IUSD COVID-19 dashboard, the Orange County Health Care Agency reiterated California’s indoor masking mandate and suggested weekly testing in the event that masks cannot be worn for sports with “heavy exertion,” according to the O.C. Register. Cancelations and postponements of sporting events are still up to the school or school district’s discretion.

“At this time if we receive any new direction from OCHCA, we will implement it, but for the time being we will continue to follow our existing protocols,” IUSD Athletic Director Mark Cunningham said to OCSportsZone on Jan. 3. Northwood’s basketball teams were initially hit the hardest in January as close contact with COVID-19 resulted in a player shortage, along with a tie dye home game postponed to Jan. 31.

“At one point, only three people could come to practice. Running plays usually needs five, so we had to combine with JV for a couple of days,” girls varsity basketball player junior Uma Joshi said. 

Two weeks worth of games were canceled and rescheduled to up to 4 games a week in late January, leaving the athletes with additional confusion and stress.

“Players were either out due to testing positive or needing to quarantine due to close contact,” Co-Athletics Director Brandon Emery said. “Our athletes, parents and coaches have been extremely understanding and flexible during this crazy time and we are hopeful that we can finish with little to no more impact to their season.”

For girls varsity soccer, no games have been canceled, but players are taking extra precautions such as wearing masks during practice outdoors.

“We’ve had around seven people who were out, so we were short some numbers for the past few games,” girls varsity soccer player junior Neela Michelsen said. “For the time being, we’ve stopped taking buses to away games so that the team won’t be enclosed in the same area for a long period of time.”

Despite recent challenges, Northwood student-athletes have proved time and time again that they are willing to step up to obstacles, embodying the T-wolf spirit on and off the court.

“COVID-19 has an uncertainty that makes it challenging for us, but it also brings us closer as a team because it’s another thing for us to get through together,” JV girls basketball coach Erin Halle said. “It’s difficult to keep apart with an indoor contact sport but we’re doing our best to stick together as a community.”