Pali Athletes Face Erratic Schedules Due to COVID-19

Pierce Bergstein is incredibly dedicated to basketball, and going into the season, he was more than ready to commit himself to Pali’s Junior Varsity (JV) basketball team. But when the spring semester started, his excitement began to fade.

With the transmission rate of the COVID-19 Omicron variant significantly increasing in January, every high school sports team in the Los Angeles City Section was sidelined, including Pali’s JV basketball team. This suspension lasted approximately a week, with practices and games starting up again on Jan. 22. 

Although Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is currently allowing these activities to continue, the guidelines are tentative, and individual teams are subject to additional restrictions on playing or practice time based on the exposure of their members to COVID-19. 

Bergstein said that the team lost about two weeks of official practice time, adding that some athletes focused on conditioning drills.

He added that someone associated with the team was exposed to COVID-19, which caused further cancellation of games and practices.

A similar scenario occurred recently with the Pali Varsity water polo team, when a game and a couple of practices were canceled abruptly, according to senior Adelaide Saab, co-captain of the team.

Pali dean Russel Howard added that LAUSD’s suspension could be reinstated at any time, explaining how in such an instance, Pali’s main obstacle would most likely not be the threat of COVID-19.

“If LA Unified shuts down all LAUSD schools, then we’d have nobody to play,” Howard said. “Yeah, we can still maybe have practice, but we might have to shut down because there’s no competition, not so much to COVID risk.”

As of now, practice and game schedules are indefinite, ready to change suddenly if the virus transmission rates surge. For a lot of players, this fragility is becoming increasingly disheartening.

“It’s really frustrating not being able to play, because we spent five weeks in the beginning of the school year conditioning and getting ready for the season,” Bergstein said. “And then it’s essentially being ripped away from us right now.”

Bergstein is also concerned about the Varsity players, many of whom are in the last season of their career.

“The worst thing is that I don’t want the seniors to lose their senior season,” he said.

“For some of them, it’s their last year of sports. They may be good enough for high school and not good enough for college,” Howard added. “So yeah, it’s tough. We’re trying to get as many games in and play as much as we can.”