For years, sports at Orcas Island High School have flourished. A large portion of students play sports in the fall, winter, and spring seasons. Between practices, games, dinners, and fundraisers, student-athletes are kept busy. This year, sports at OIHS have looked very different. Some sports have had intermittent practices (with masks and in small cohorts), but others may not happen at all. This change has left student-athletes with copious amounts of free time and excess energy. The last ten months of isolation have left many students with cabin fever, and perhaps because they have been hit the hardest, student-athletes have discovered some creative new ways to workout and use up the time and energy they would have put into sports.
During the summer, students were able to go on long walks and hikes and swim in the lake, but as the weather has worsened, students have been forced to find indoor activities as well. Some teens have been so lucky as to find old workout DVDs in their garage or basement, while others resort to grainy YouTube videos. There has been a 62 percent increase in the internet searches for “80s Workout Video” in San Juan County in the last six months, and OIHS proudly claims credit. “I just don’t understand why fuzzy headbands and leg warmers ever went out of style!” said one jazzercise enthused student. However, these workout routines have spawned controversy between many students. “We are on our computers and phones all day. Exercising is the one time we can get away from a screen,” said one teen when asked about the debate. This student recommended trying stair sprints or mimicking the therapeutic routine of long-distance track by running circles around a kitchen island or coffee table.
Many parents are also against the resurgence of 80s workout videos. “I’m happy my son is getting off his phone, but I just can’t take it anymore! I’ll wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of him doing jumping jacks in the bedroom above me, and he leaves hula hoops all over the house!” said one frustrated mother when asked about her son’s new obsession. In some households, parents have banned this method of exercise completely. Student athletes in these homes have had to find ways to use up their excess energy in more productive ways. Many have turned to baking, and now spend hours kneading bread and making whipped cream by hand. “You would be surprised how much exercise equipment you can find in the kitchen. Moving bags of flour, making crepes in a cast iron pan, using a hand-crank apple peeler, shaking marbles in jars to make homemade butter: the possibilities are endless,” said a student who has fully embraced her new fitness routine.
In addition to missing the physical component to playing sports, student athletes also mourn the loss of certain experiences and traditions. “Every so often I just go out and sit in the back of my car for a few hours with a bag of Funyuns and a blanket. If I slide the seat in front of me really far back, I can almost imagine I’m on the bus on the way to a soccer game,” said one student. Another former soccer player recommends her teammates tie a garden hose to the top of a ladder or up in a tree. “I turn the hose on and run in place underneath till the grass gets so wet I slip and fall,” said the player nostalgically. Other student athletes report coping mechanisms such as shoving all their clothes in one dresser drawer, refusing to wash their black socks, and dripping green food dye on their shower walls. These pitiful effects at normalcy remind us that, while this last year has been hard for all of us, student-athletes need some extra compassion, for they have been by far the most affected.