Sophia Prieto is just happy to be back on the court.
A junior shooting guard on the Glenwood Springs High School girls varsity basketball team, Prieto said after all the ups and downs COVID-19 caused she’s grateful to be able to play with her team — and will do whatever it takes to be able to continue coming back to the court this season.
“I’m just very thankful that we’re able to, one, come to school and, two, be able to play in the gym with everyone…like at this point I’ll wear a whole bunch of masks, I don’t even care, like I’m happy we’re playing,” Prieto said.
“Uncertainty” is the word teammates and coaches alike agreed could best describe the past year. Maddie Moser, a senior point guard, said on multiple occasions it seemed like the team was building up their momentum and finally finished quarantining one second and the next being told someone had been exposed or they had to cancel the upcoming open gym.
“So, trying to figure out when you can go play with your friends, and when you can get in the gym and when games are going to start and just everything…once you get an idea of when something is going to start it just seems like it gets knocked down, so trying to keep a positive mindset through that unknown and that uncertainty has been the hardest part,” Moser said.
Pam Rodriguez, a junior point guard, recounted a time when she contracted COVID-19 but not showing any symptoms, still went to an open gym and ended up unknowingly exposing her whole team.
“Then throughout Thanksgiving break everyone had to quarantine and I felt like so overwhelmed and I felt like everyone was going to be like ‘why,’ you know?,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said that aside from being isolated from her team and family, there was also the challenge of rebuilding her strength once she was no longer sick. She said that being able to accept herself for catching COVID-19 was something she grappled with while stuck in her room 24/7 as life continued on without her.
“One of the worst parts was it was my brother’s 11th birthday and they had to celebrate right in the living room while I was in my room hearing them celebrate and eating cake. And I was just in my room…I felt super overwhelmed. I couldn’t accept myself for having covid and then having the whole team shut down I felt so bad for everybody,” Rodriguez said.
Teammate Ella Johnson, junior point guard, said that despite Rodriguez’s perception of others being upset with her, in reality, they were concerned for her wellbeing and just wanted to see her get better and return to the court.
“I wasn’t mad at all…it’s not their fault and anyone could have gotten it, it could have been anyone on the team. Because it’s so new we know nothing about it really. Everything’s so weird right now that we have to take one thing at a time, and it can’t be all put on someone else because these times are so heavy right now,” Johnson said.
Prieto also tested positive for COVID-19 during the pre-season and said it was difficult to give herself the patience to heal and for her body to build back its strength. On top of being conscious of her own actions, Prieto and her teammates have the possibility of quarantine or being exposed everyday in their classrooms, where they sit next to students they may not even know and don’t know what kind of precautions they’re taking.
“The hardest part was I got sick and then when I came back from quarantine another student in my class got it so I had to quarantine for another week… you don’t know how safe the person next to you is being versus how safe you’re trying to be,” Prieto said.
Moser said being out for the season due to an ankle injury during her sophomore year gave her some insight to what it felt like for her teammates when they needed to isolate after contracting the virus. For her, she said not being able to maintain human connection or spend time with others caused nervousness when she thought about getting better and out of a cast, finally able to rejoin her friends and teammates.
“The hardest part was just not having that ability to be close with anyone really. I was on crutches, I had a cast, I really wasn’t able to go anywhere…my biggest fear was not being able to have that connection with people when I was able to return. That definitely took a big hit on my mental health…I was pretty quiet, just sad all the time really…being lonely was the worst part,” Moser said.
Now that the team is able to compete again, with proper COVID-19 precautions, they said they’re focusing on having fun and creating their own energy that fans’ presence usually brings. Anyone can watch their games through the NFHS streaming site even after the fact. The ability to see games anywhere in the state is also a bonus their coach, Rhonda Moser, noted, since a lot of times family members won’t attend games the team travels to throughout the state.
“I’m so grateful that we get to be in the gym. I know there’ve been a lot of people complaining about the kids wearing masks, and I haven’t heard one of these kids complain…at this point I kind of feel like (everyone should) stop complaining and embrace what we’ve been given because it could be taken away at any time,” Moser said.