Grady sports improve mental health during pandemic


Peggy Edwards

Although sports look different this year due to the pandemic, Grady’s basketball season has begun.

Jamie Marlowe

Students wake up and click to join their first Zoom classes of the day. After four classes, homework, and more screen time with extracurriculars, they go to sleep and repeat this mentally draining routine, five days a week.

While Covid-19 may make the world seem grey, Grady sports have provided students with the color the online school world has been lacking.

“I think it would have been a lot harder going through the pandemic without having football,” sophomore football player Wesley Urda said. “It was great having something to do over the summer and other than school work in the afternoons now, I don’t know what I would’ve spent my time doing without practice with everything else being closed.”

According to the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), physical activity has not only been proven to improve physical fitness but mental fitness as well. Covid-19 has deprived many students of human interaction, which can be detrimental to mental health. Grady’s sports, with practices averaging two hours a day, are keeping students connected to each other, and disconnected from the online world.

“Practice is a great time to be disconnected,” junior wrestling captain Jack Collins said. “It’s nice to be able to focus on the sport instead of worrying about assignments or other stuff. I’ve found it’s nice to be active, instead of staying in my room all day.”

Sophomore Neisha Ball said virtual schooling has made her less motivated.

“On most days, I find it difficult to start my work, and I pretty much never start it on time,” Ball said. “Not having others around to motivate me makes it difficult to focus.”

Ball has to sacrifice her lacrosse season this year, due to living with family members at high risk for Cocid-19. Playing a team sport is a risk she doesn’t want to take, but Ball says that being without a sport during this uncertain time has a negative impact on any student’s mental health.

“I think it would be greatly helpful, but unfortunately, I’m unable to [play],” she said. “I feel like Covid is making me miss out on the things that I enjoy. I’ll miss the feeling of riding a bus to a game. It was always my favorite part of lacrosse.”

Despite the challenges of Covid-19, Grady’s sports seasons have not been canceled since last March, including high-contact sports such as wrestling. Collins is thankful for the opportunity to participate in his sport this year.

“I feel extremely lucky,” Collins said. “Wrestling is the last sport you would expect to be able to happen this year. I know other schools across the country are not having a season this year. I just hope that by Grady having a season, we don’t put anyone at risk or cause Covid to stick around.”

Sports seasons are continuing, but aren’t the same as in years past. For example, Collins’s favorite part of wrestling, getting his hand held up when he wins a match, will not happen this year.

“I’m going to miss that part of wrestling,” Collins said. “There’s a lot of tradition and respect within that hand hold that is going to be missing this season. This won’t affect my love of the sport; I understand that it’s a need for our season to happen, and with any luck, things will be back to normal next year.”

Although no sports have yet to be canceled this school year, multiple spring sports were canceled during the 2019-2020 school year. Students from across the nation missed important sporting events, and hope that this year won’t be a repeat.

“Being a state champion in high school is the biggest honor for a wrestler, and I know hundreds of seniors in high school had their championship canceled and will never have another chance to win the title,” Collins said. “I can’t imagine how hard that must have been for some wrestlers. To most of us, it isn’t just a sport; it’s a lifestyle, and to have your last shot at glory taken away is so sad.”

While many students participate in other activities, sometimes the effect sports has can’t be topped.

“Right now, I model; so, I’d still be doing that,” senior basketball player Joseph Scott said. “But basketball is definitely something that is very important to me. It’s something that I hold close to my heart.”

Although the sports scene looks different this season, most students are happy to have the opportunity to participate in the sports they love.

“Especially with everything falling down around you, one thing you can control is if you can get that basketball into that basket,” Scott said. “For me, that’s what basketball is; it’s an outlet. It’s a way for me to express myself.”