Team’s Chemistry Among COVID


Annabel Andre, Staff Writer

As the first grading period of virtual school comes to an end, captains of LASA sports and their teams get ready for a season full of questions. This year high school athletics across the country have been delayed. LASA is no exception as precautionary paths are taken against COVID-19 and teams learn to acclimate to LASA’s split from LBJ.

In November 2019, it was announced that the LASA and LBJ athletic departments would separate in 2020, one year before LASA students move to the Eastside Memorial Highschool building in 2021. Newly hired athletic coordinator Bryan Crews already anticipated difficulty running athletics at LASA , but in March, when students started attending school from home, the prospect of sports as usual seemed even less promising. Over the summer there were a lot of questions surrounding AISD athletic practices and competitions this year, but they have been deemed safe if the safety guidelines outlined by both AISD and UIL are followed. 

According to captains, it can be difficult to acclimate to social distancing measures during practices and games. Senior cross country captain Abby Goff said the team has implemented mandatory social distancing and mask-wearing during breaks but that these precautions can be hard to remember.

“We’re supposed to wear masks until we start running, runners don’t have to wear masks when they’re running,” Goff said. “[I’m] constantly checking myself and reminding myself and then reminding the other people to spread out and wear masks.”

Some students, like Goff, feel comfortable playing but worry about the people around them.  She said that her approach includes following science-based regulations and respecting the community guidelines that make the whole team feel comfortable and safe. 

“Ultimately, it’s important to me to honor the community around us, even if I’m personally comfortable with doing something I know that maybe my family or our neighbors or other people in general might not be comfortable with the same thing,” Goff said. “I think it’s important to listen to all the regulations of the CDC, and I try to respect those in my community and science and try to make sure that the communities around us are comfortable with what we’re doing.”

Like Goff, senior and basketball captain Raj Ramachandran feels comfortable taking the risk to practice, but is worried for the safety of his family. He said that when he decided to play basketball this year, he made the difficult decision of quarantining himself from the rest of his family. 

“Since both my parents are in their fifties, what I’ve done is self-quarantined in one side of my house,” Ramachandran said. “We basically try to limit interactions in the house as much as possible, and when we do get close, we wear masks around each other.”

Though LASA’s split from LBJ has led to roster changes, Goff and Ramachandran believe they are closer as a unit than ever before. According to Goff, reasons for the cross country team’s increased chemistry include a smaller team size and challenges runners have had to face together.

“I personally think the team dynamic is closer because we are able to focus a little bit more on the individual runner because there’s a smaller group,” Goff said. “The track is a little system, a little ecosystem. We are closer, I think, out of adversity, our community is really important during times of adversity.” 

Ramachandran said that, despite the fact that only him, the other captain, and a few other players were on the previous team with LBJ, he still likes his new LASA team. Because the Varsity LBJ basketball team was extremely competitive to join in years past and consisted of mostly LBJ students, the split has allowed LASA players to move away from the bench and towards playing time. 

“The team I’m on is pretty amazing, probably my favorite team I’ve been on,” Ramachandran said.

Both Goff and Ramachandran have played their sport at LASA for the past four years, throughout LASA and LBJ’s joint team, but senior football quarterback Tom Standwitz said he and many other players have never played football in a high school setting. He said easing the players into their responsibilities as teammates has aided in the process of accustoming players to the system.

“It’s a pretty steep learning curve to get everybody up to speed, but thankfully everything has been simplified a lot,” Strandwitz said. “So as long as everybody can remember the three jobs they have, we can definitely pull off some wins.”

According to the captains, they had little doubt about whether or not they would play this year. Other than their concerns for the safety of those around them and their own safety, they believe it’s important that they continue to participate, especially because they are in their last year of high school. 

Goff has been on the LASA cross country team since she was a freshman. According to her, being a part of the team helps runners become acclimated to the school, and making friends and being part of the community have been extremely valuable for her.  

“It really was one of those things that welcomed me to LASA, it made me feel part of the community,” Goff said.

Throughout her four years on the team, Goff said it has been her priority to foster the kind of team she wants to see on the cross country team. Now with the responsibilities of a captain, especially in leading the team through a more difficult season, she aims for the same energy. 

“Just trying to have that kind of positivity and project the inclusion and warmth that welcomed me onto the team, what made me a part of LASA when I first arrived,” Goff said. “I think it was just natural to become captain, but it didn’t really change much about my approach to being on the team.”

To Goff, cross country is more than just a sport. She said that she has come to the realization that the experience has reflected a lot into her life in some ways. 

“In 11th grade I had to take time off from cross country, and then I had this sort of revelation of what running meant to me,” Goff said. “I think outsiders think running is an individual sport, but I think cross country is kind of this great metaphor for life. Everyone is following their own path to success, but no matter who you are, when you come to practice, you’re part of the community, and everyone is supporting you.”

Much like how cross country has impacted Goff, Basketball has had a profound effect on Ramachandran’s life. For these players, playing during COVID is even more important because it adds meaning to their lives. 

“To me, basketball is not only a thing I do for fun; it’s kind of who I am,” Ramachandran said. “When I go to sleep, it’s what I’m thinking about. It’s an escape, in a way, to a really beautiful game. It’s like any other hobby that you really get into. It adds a little extra meaning to your everyday life.”