Several months of silence on Webb’s campus broke when student athletes arrived filled with excitement and elation. Back in November, Webbies received the disappointing news that their return to campus for classes would be extended until February break. However, enclosed in this letter was also the decision to allow athletes back on campus to train for their upcoming season. This promise was fulfilled on Monday, November 30th, as practices began for the first time since March.
The turn onto Webb’s driveway never felt as amazing. Students could not wait to go back to school.
“It was cool to finally return to campus,” Matthew Gooch (‘22) said. “The protocols were very strict, and it was clear that Webb is taking the return to campus seriously. Understandably, participation was very low, but it was still good to be on campus.”
While some students parked in the DSPL, others were dropped off at the loop and were greeted by faculty and staff. Upon arrival, students completed the questionnaire on the Passport app and reviewed the guidelines to keep everyone safe. Once the check-in was completed, Webbies could then walk to the field below Hooper Student Center and greet their activity leader. Everyone even had the opportunity to take home customized WSC/VWS masks.
While returning students were excited to see their classmates and peers, many new freshmen entered campus for the first time as an official Webb student.
“I was so excited coming onto campus for volleyball,” Nicole Rabadi (‘24) said. “Everyone was so nice, and I loved walking around campus. I loved meeting my classmates in–person, and the upper classman were so welcoming and nice.”
Once every group member arrived, the group began walking to their new outdoor practice destinations. Volleyball and functional fitness practiced on the softball field, and the dance team was on the tennis courts. The weights from the gym no longer sat in silence, the pool was no longer still, and Webb’s sports were once again, somewhat, underway.
While students enjoyed practicing, many coaches had to adjust their program to fit the school’s guidelines. Sports such as volleyball that are originally indoors are required to play outdoors so social distancing can take place. Every person is required to wear a mask unless the activity requires a great exertion of energy, in which students will have to be greatly separated. Webb also provides cleaning supplies so students can sanitize equipment after use.
“All coaches have had to adjust practices to comply with guidelines,” said Steve Wishek, Director of Athletics. “I must commend all of our coaches for being creative in their modifications and adjustments in order to make the practices fun and incorporate some skill-building into the conditioning work. It was amazing to see so many students excited to be back on campus, and we look forward to continuing and expanding the program in a safe way as we can.”
Many Webb students feel comfortable returning because of these safety precautions, but others do not feel certain because of the huge spike of COVID-19 cases in California.
“I didn’t return to campus this season for sports because I’m still worried about COVID cases,” Valeria Gonzales (‘23) said. “My family and I are trying our best to stay safe during these difficult times and the last thing I want is to bring the virus home.”
The number of students who came in-person was not reflective of the number of students in the activity. VWS cross country, for example, has 17 members in total, but only one member returned to campus in the first week.
“The first week of practice was interesting,” said Nika Haleftiras, science department faculty. “We only had three students come for Basketball Clinic which made for easy distancing and a more individualized practice. Basketball clinic has a lot of students who are not local, so I was expecting a small group. Hopefully we might add a few more.”
Nonetheless, a turnout of 75 athletes does not draw an accurate picture of students’ enthusiasm to return to campus. While Southern California is under lockdown and is adjusting to the new stay at home order, Webb will continue to host students on campus and will hopefully provide more opportunities for students to return if these three weeks go smoothly.