The pandemic is difficult for high school athletes, especially girls


Gretchen Wolpert had to blink twice. It was not exactly what the Dublin softball star wanted to see when rubbing his eyes on an April working day morning last spring. But it splashed on her computer screen, as if the tentacles of her virtual world reached in when she saw the email at the end of her junior year, tearing her heart apart.

This is the same as the reaction of millions of female high school athletes when the COVID-19 pandemic ended last year. Not only has it trampled on the hope of playing basketball, it also made many people wonder if and when they will compete again-and whether their work and commitments that have been invested in sports for more than a decade will evolve into college scholarships.

For outstanding high school graduates in the four regions, it has affected them in different ways. Because the NCAA authorizes college athletes to qualify for an extra year, many people are affected by the backlog of fourth-year students remaining in the university.

“No high school athlete will experience what we experienced last year. I hope no one has to face the problems we faced. But we survived. Even in difficult times, you can learn things and you can survive.” ——Gretchen Walpert

It clogs the system, especially for outgoing seniors like Walpert, Northern Pennsylvania pitcher star Maddie Volpe, Upper Dublin suburban No. 1 sprinter Maura Diano and West Chester Henderson Statewide trail runner Lisel Scherer.

Like many people across the country, the quartet must reconsider what sports means to them, if they want to continue to college, and how it tests them.

The 18-year-old Wolpert will go to Pfeiffer University (North Carolina), a top III team, where she is expected to hit first base and catch the ball. Walpert looked at Alabama. The cancelled season of the pandemic made her lose her chance to become the historic home run leader in Dublin, ending her career with 9 points-a bit tied the record.

“I could have gotten into trouble in recruiting, but Pfeiffer has a high level of DI,” Wolpert said. He did complete the school record with a 0.988 field goal percentage, a career average of 0.327, and hit five home runs this year. Hit. “Next, I will realize that because of what we learned in 2020, everything we experienced last year will make us better.

“But I admit that I’m really scared that I can’t find a school to play in the university. The third grade of senior students was cancelled. This is the basis of college recruitment for all of us. I started at the age of four. Playing softball is really difficult without a season. I can say that seeing that email in the morning of April almost broke my heart.

“My dream since I was a child is to play college softball. I am afraid I will disappoint my young self. No high school athlete will experience what we experienced last year. I hope no one has to face the problems we face. But we live You can learn from it even in difficult times. That’s how it is.”

The 18-year-old Dianno will travel to Emory (Atlanta, Georgia) and plan to study pre-medicine. The upper Dublin sprinter won the school’s prestigious Jackie Shuman Coach Award for leadership, responsibility and athletic ability because he is an outstanding female athlete in all sports. She has received attention from schools such as Leigh, Lafayette and Bucknell.

Maura-Dianno_060821Courtesy/Voice of Philadelphia

Up to Maura Dianno in Dublin.

Once the pandemic hits, the stalemate begins, which forces Diano to reconsider her destination and change her direction if she even wants to run in college. She has been running since she was four years old. In her junior year, she looked at herself deeply.

“I am very angry with the situation I am in because I have lost a season of games and everything is beyond my control,” Diano said. “I was lucky to have my (brother) Jack by his side. He always challenged me. When I was young, there was a four-year gap between us. In the fourth grade, he put me in the hockey net, when I was a goalkeeper. , He would shoot at me (laugh). They gave me cushions to wear (laugh).

“What is lost here is that girls are affected by this as much as boys. I have been working hard all my life, and when it comes to girls, we are ignored.”-Mullah Diano

“When the pandemic hit, I didn’t have the motivation to train or run. I just didn’t like it that much. Jack showed me how to lift. This inspired me again. I never thought about running in college, now I am I remember how unfair I felt at first that the season was cancelled, which made me realize how much I miss running.

“The whole thing makes me think about how I changed the way I do things. What is lost here is that girls are affected by this as much as boys. I have been working hard all my life, and when it comes to girls, we are ignored. “

Indeed, male and female athletes from six schools were contacted for this story. Many people confirmed that during the pandemic, when using school facilities, women’s sports were often put aside to make room for male athletes, because the number of athletes was caused by social alienation. minimize.

In the past few years, everyone has said that female athletes and male athletes have the same opportunity to enter the school’s respective training facilities.

“Everything must be disinfected, and we only allowed about 15 players to exercise this spring,” said an urban football player. “It’s a pity that our female athlete was messed up.”

Liesl-Scherrer-2_060821Courtesy/Voice of Philadelphia

Liesl Scherrer of West Chester Henderson.

Like Dianno, the 18-year-old Scherrer went to Emory, where she plans to major in business marketing and art management. Unlike everyone here, Scherrer’s high school sports career started late, starting with Henderson’s freshman year. She jokingly said that she became a “5K girl’s sofa”.

The epidemic also tested her.

Nevertheless, this did not stop her. As a junior, Scherrer finished 142nd overall in the PIAA 5K Class AAA State Championship. This year, she ranked among the top 25 in the state with a total score of 17th.

“During the pandemic, I had to rearrange my thought process because last year you did not train for the game, but to maintain mental and physical health.”-Liesel Scherer

“During the pandemic, I had to rearrange my thinking process because last year you did not train for the race, but to maintain mental and physical health, because there is nothing to look forward to except for the next run. “Scheler said. “Every morning I have someone running with me (Carolyn Miller) and we hope to have a cross-country season. Our coach is great. We raced in town around 4:30 in the morning.”

Summer training requires running 5 to 6 miles. They performed cruel exercises near the trail near their home. Scherrer made sure she went to bed before 7pm to participate in their “Dawn 5K”. During their run, at sunrise, this is a great picture.

“This is also a good way to start a new day,” she said. “To be honest, I lost a lot of weight because I have been running to the ground, but this is related to running. You always keep it in your mind. We are training for something that will never happen. We will be disappointed in the end. It’s like trying to keep the goal without knowing whether it exists.

“I don’t think I will run in college before the pandemic.”

Volpe is the most prolific pitcher in the history of North Benn-even though he has only played for three years. Entering the PIAA 6A state playoffs, the right-handed shooter in the coastal area of ??Carolina has a career record of 66-9, and a record of 22-2 this season, with 12 lockouts. Her 22 victories have made her better than the North. Pennsylvania lost one school’s one-season win record in a single season, and her team is still alive in the state championship, she has at least a chance to tie the record. She also holds a school record of 656 professional victories and professional strikeouts.

Volpe-Wolpert_060821.jpgCourtesy/Voice of Philadelphia

Left: Gretchen Wolpert (left) and Mady Volpe (right). Right: Volpe plays for North Pennsylvania.

Although she has almost all of her career and single-season records, what makes her cringe is that if Volpe hadn’t been obliterated because of the new crown virus in her junior year, her record might have been obliterated.

Volpe, 18, started playing softball at the age of 5.

The game is part of her-last year, it was taken away. This is the first time she has not played softball in 12 years.

“I have to be honest with myself. I don’t think I will take it for granted on a softball field anymore.” —Maddy Volpe

“It’s heartbreaking, but I think there is a season that I am more grateful for,” Volpe said. “I remember we were practicing because of the new crown virus, we enjoyed a two-week vacation, when our coach asked us to sit down and tell us that this might be our last practice in 2020.

“My teammates and I were standing on the Chipotle team. That was when we officially discovered it. It’s hard for me to stay motivated. I remember my dad dragging me out every day and saying, “Let’s go, come on, you are playing summer ball.” “I will tell him,’No, I am not.

“Last June, we started practicing with my traveling team. It doesn’t seem to be true. We just practice. We also travel to Atlanta, South Carolina, Arizona and other places. We all play with masks and don’t have any fans. It’s hard to play with masks, but we’re playing. I know that other kids have their scholarships cancelled because of college backlog. It’s hard for new athletes, but it’s also hard for the second and third grades to get promoted. I’m very grateful for the card. The coaches at the Lorraine Coast are very honest with me.

“I have to be honest with myself. I don’t think I will take it for granted on the softball field again.”

Any high school athlete who has survived 2020 will not.


Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sports writer in the Philadelphia area. He has been writing for PhillyVoice since its establishment in 2015 and is the president of the American Boxing Writers Association. He can follow on Twitter: @JSantoliquito.





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