Local prep athletes react to COVID-19 changes

CCA senior Derek Sung
(Ken Grosse)

The rise of the COVID-19 virus, from vague concept to national crisis in a matter of weeks, has changed lives across the country. Although not nearly as critical in the big picture as the healthcare and economic consequences, the curtailment of the majority of the world’s sporting events has certainly had its effect both nationally and locally.

Recently, several spring student-athletes on the local high school scene shared thoughts regarding what appears to be the cancellation of their 2020 seasons, its impact on their lives and how daily routines have been altered.

Derek Sung (Senior/Canyon Crest Academy)

The captain for the CCA team that finished second in last season’s CIF Open Division tournament, Sung also reached the round of 16 in the section individual singles bracket.

“This whole situation is extremely unfortunate on so many levels for all high school students. There are many students who need school to receive their daily meals, seniors who are missing out on so many high school experiences, juniors who are losing a very important time in their lives and there are athletes who are being held back from playing the sport that they love.

“Although I am a little frustrated that I am unable to play tennis regularly, my negative feelings are humbled by the fact that there are so many other families and people who are losing more important things.

“Initially, when I heard school was temporarily canceled, I was a little relieved. I could get a break from my challenging course load this year. I tried to maintain my tennis training schedule but it soon become nearly impossible because we weren’t supposed to leave our houses anymore and most tennis clubs were closing down. I am still maintaining my strength and fitness by going on runs in my local area and doing calisthenic exercises at home.

“It’s a shame that the season was interrupted as I really feel that our CCA men’s team has more depth than any team in school history. I strongly believe that this was the year we could’ve stopped Torrey Pines undefeated legacy against us.

“I miss seeing all of my friends at school, and all of my teammates on and off the court. I didn’t know how much the team meant to me until our season was stopped.

“That said, I have spent much more time eating, playing, and watching movies with my family. I have also spent much more time thinking about my future in college, and how my life is moving on to its next chapter. Often times while keeping up with my schoolwork and tennis, I don’t have much time to reflect on the things I have done, and what my future will be like—now, I have had ample time to do that.”

SDA sophomore Katherine Huang
(Ken Grosse)

Katherine Huang (Sophomore at San Dieguito Academy)

As one of the stars on the first-year San Dieguito swimming team, Huang raced to third place finishes in both the 200 and 500 freestyles at the 2019 CIF Championships and now holds six individual school records.

“It’s definitely scary not knowing exactly what’s happening or is going to happen. It’s disappointing that all of the spring sports are on hold—we’ve worked so hard and were looking forward to our dual meets, invitationals, the league championship and, of course, the CIF Championships.

“The biggest thing for me is to stay positive and active. I’m doing runs, hikes and at-home workouts trying the best I can to stay in shape.

“I miss the whole high school season and everything that comes with it. It’s fun making memories while spending time training and competing with my teammates.

“But, I’ve been catching up on school work, doing extra to get ahead and just trying to be more productive.

“I’ve also been trying some new things because we have the whole day except for our online school. I used to play piano and now, I’ve been teaching myself to play again. Also, I’ve been doing some baking, chores around the house and just spending more time with my family.”

Torrey Pines senior Caden Fioroni
(Ken Grosse)

Caden Fioroni (Senior/Torrey Pines)

A key member of the 2019 CIF Division I champion Torrey Pines’ boys’ golf team, Fioroni was third in the individual scoring and had to be considered one of the favorites to win the section’s individual crown this, his final, season. He had a somewhat unique view of what’s happened locally over the last 10 days.

“It hasn’t really hit me. I was in South Carolina competing in the Sage Valley Junior Invitational (he finished 17th out of 54 in the prestigious event). I had left the Sunday before and got back last Saturday. I was out of school for the week and when I returned, all of the schools were closed down, classes had been switched to online and I had to kind of figure everything out.

“Right now, we have no idea if the season will somehow resume. I hope so. It’s my last year and it would be sad to end it this way.

“So many things have shut down due to COVID-19 and my mom is pretty strict with me as far as following the policies that are in place so hanging out with friends is a ‘no go.’ But golfing hasn’t really gone away. I guess because you’re outside and can basically play alone, some of the courses are still open.

“I’ve got a lot of extra time and am trying to use that to really get better than I was, golf-wise, when this started. I get up, do my school work and then have all day to practice something related to golf. A lot of the driving ranges are closed because of social distancing, so a lot of it is putting and chipping.

“When I’m not working on my golf game, I watch a lot of Tiger (Woods) video highlights, the final rounds of tournaments he’s won. It doesn’t necessarily help my physical game, but makes me feel like ‘I can do this.’

“I’ve always watched the PGA Tour events on TV and base a lot of what I do on the course on what I see them do. I try to make myself better and one of the things I try to do is watch their attitudes, see how they react to different situations, particularly when they make mistakes. I want to be a professional golfer and my goal is to be among the best in the world. Seeing what it takes motivates me.”

Torrey Pines senior Mia Kohn
(Ken Grosse)

Mia Kohn (Senior/Torrey Pines)

Kohn was part of CIF Open Division-winning lacrosse teams in her first two seasons at Torrey Pines and after being eliminated in the first round in 2019 as a member of a very young, rebuilding Falcon squad, envisioned getting back to the top in her final year. She is set to play lacrosse next year at San Diego State.

“It’s really crazy, kind of mind-blowing how the whole COVID-19 scenario seemed of little concern in the fall and has now put society on pause. It’s confused a lot of us because we don’t really know what’s going on, in the big picture or locally. I don’t think anybody does.

“As a senior, I’ve put three years of really hard work into the Torrey Pines girls’ lacrosse program, a lot of us have. For our seniors, this was “our team” and we were really looking forward to it. We felt this could be our year again and were ready to do anything to get that last ring.

“It’s pretty sad as well as confusing. During this time, we want to maintain leadership and team morale in case we get some good luck and our season gets restored…but realizing that we may not get to put the TP jersey on again, that’s tough.

“In the meantime, I’m taking full advantage of the down time, getting better as an athlete and preparing for college. I’m working out every day, sometimes twice a day, to elevate my skills and fitness. I try to mix it up and alternate between running on my own (sprints/distance/hills/stairs), doing weights and lacrosse training like wall ball for my passing and shooting on an empty net.

“I’ve been taking up spike ball with my brother whose back home from Tufts (Boston) and trying to read more. I used to be a big reader and enjoy the opportunity to do more of that again. Of course, there’s been lots of movie watching and spending time with my family

LCC senior Philip Pozdnyakov
(Ken Grosse)

Philip Pozdnyakov (Senior/La Costa Canyon)

The winner of the CIF 100 backstroke and runner-up in the 100 freestyle as a junior on the La Costa Canyon swimming team, Pozdnyakov was poised to have a big senior season before heading off to Cornell for college.

“It’s really unfortunate. We’re doing school online now. There have been a lot of changes and it’s hard to adjust but it seems like everyone’s doing their best. Obviously, my sports commitment is a lot lower now so I have more time available.

“I was really looking forward to May and the CIF Championships. From the looks of it now, CIF and the State Championships will be canceled. All of our practices are canceled so I can’t see my team, can’t train or compete.

“Our coaches sent us individual workouts we can do at home---abs, plants, push-ups—so I do those whenever I can. I miss being with my training partners and friends, though—just seeing them improves my overall mood during the day.

“I still have school work to take care of though. We started online Monday and our teachers have optional video chats that are about 20 minutes and are mainly question and answer sessions.

“My normal world is kind of school-swim-eat-sleep-repeat, so I’m not used to having a lot of free time. I haven’t been doing a lot because it’s tougher to just hang out. I’m home when I would normally be going to the beach, surfing or something like that. I enjoy the company of others.

I have been staying home, doing exercises and watching Netflix a lot. Right now, my favorite show is Black Mirror—it’s a sci-fi series about a twisted, high-tech dystopian future portraying a lot of “what if” situations.”