Arcadia High School Cautiously Resumes Athletics Amidst Pandemic

By AUSD Digital Communications Intern Grace Lee


Arcadia High Boys Bball Team in Masks

Arcadia High School’s Boys Basketball team stays a safe distance apart while conditioning.

(Photo courtesy of AHS Athletic Director Milica Protic.)


Few things have stayed the same throughout the past year’s wild series of events. In the search for normalcy and routine, seekers have been left with a dearth of successful finds. And yet, there is still something that provides a sense of community, relief from stress, and a distraction from the perturbing world: sports.

Whether it’s through watching the Los Angeles Dodgers win their first World Series in 32 years or playing a game of soccer with the family in the backyard, sports serve as a welcomed reminder of a more carefree time and a hope for a different future. This is no different for student-athletes across the nation. At Arcadia High School, the athletic department has decided to permit organized team practices, which began Nov. 2, 2020, allowing athletes to precariously envision their deferred 2020-2021 seasons.

This decision, however, did not come easily nor did it come without a cost. Headed by Athletic Director Milica Protic, Arcadia High School’s Athletic Department has been working hard to keep up with the erratic nature of COVID-19 restrictions and protocols. As such, they meet weekly to discuss and evaluate the current situation and whether or not sports should continue for that week. Though the process is extensive, Protic explained that “factors such as physical, mental, and behavioral health [that] additionally impact the well-being of our students” are well worth the time and energy required from herself and her team. 


 Arcadia High Boys Football team physically distanced while conditioning

Members of the Arcadia High Football team follow safety protocol, including social distancing and bringing personal water bottles to

avoid risk of contact and/or transmitting any possible viruses. 

(Photo courtesy of AHS Athletic Director Milica Protic.)

The result is an extensive daily routine in which participating athletes must get their temperature checked, go through a health screening, maintain social distancing throughout practice, and keep their masks on when possible. All of this is compulsory and is in addition to the annual athletic clearance in order to ensure safety of the more than 230 students that participate on a weekly basis.


However, this extra, sometimes inconvenient, step in participating in athletics this year is not a simple sacrifice. “Yes […] it is well worth it to give the opportunity to allow my athletes to work out together while observing COVID-19 protocols,” said Coach Meng of the Boys Volleyball teams at Arcadia High. But he also explained that it is simultaneously unprofitable, “because we really did not have the opportunity to spend quality time to practice because of all of the safety COVID-19 safety protocols.”


Not only has this pandemic posed a dilemma for several coaches, but Arcadia High students who had serious athletic plans past high school have also found this year’s season to be exceptionally strenuous. In fact, before the resumption of sports, Arcadia High junior and varsity hockey player for the Junior Ducks Ice Hockey Club Alex Kelkelyan had to take an alternate route. “I’ve had to adapt […] by reaching out to colleges that I would like to play for. Luckily it has worked out for me because I’ve gotten a couple of offers already,” he said. Kelkelyan also explained that, because Arcadia High is staying online for learning as of now, school has made it harder for him to focus on his sport, hoping that school might soon follow sports in reopening.


On the other hand, athletes whose sport focuses on game day performance benefit more from Arcadia High resuming sports in person. “I haven’t been able to race and run the times I need for college, admitted Arcadia High junior William Kelley, who is in his second year as a varsity member of Arcadia High’s Cross Country team. “With the pandemic, it’s very difficult for college coaches to get an idea of how good you are.” 

Graphic Designs by Arcadia Unified Digital Communications Intern Wesley Chen


Another significant role that sports play in some students’ lives is in the transition from middle to high school for freshmen. Finding one’s place in high school can be overwhelming, but joining organizations like sports teams can ameliorate the process. “The bright side [of resuming sports] is that I have been able to meet people and try out something new,” said Madison Yee, a freshman in the Arcadia High Pep Squad.


Since the beginning of the school year, COVID-19 cases have greatly increased, causing Protic and her team to constantly assess the situation and re-evaluate the efficacy of existing protocols throughout what is now nearing half a year. However, as of Jan. 25, Governor Gavin Newsom has lifted the stay-at-home orders and COVID-19 case numbers appear to be on the decline. While this does open up more opportunities for athletes, doubts surrounding viability, practicality, and safety continue.


Though the prospect of mass vaccine distribution seems promising, the future is still unclear at best. What is clear, though, is that sports provide outlets for students; they serve as a gateway to a dream college, a place to make new friends, or simply time to release pent-up stress and energy. So as schools across America continue to tackle this complex situation, one thing remains a priority: the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of student-athletes.