‘Covid wont stop us:’ Volleyball player Bajaj, soccer player Wolf continue training

Sophomore+Uma+Bajaj+plays+for+Actyve+Volleyball%2C+a+volleyball+club+located+in+Santa+Monica.+In+addition%2C+junior+Gabrielle+Wolf+plays+for+Santa+Monica+Surf+Soccer+Club+which+competed+in+the+Coast+Soccer+League.+

Photo credit: Mick Haupt from Unsplash.com, licensed for reuse

Sophomore Uma Bajaj plays for Actyve Volleyball, a volleyball club located in Santa Monica. In addition, junior Gabrielle Wolf plays for Santa Monica Surf Soccer Club which competed in the Coast Soccer League.

By Rose Sarner, Staff Reporter

As COVID-19 social distancing guidelines remain in place throughout Los Angeles County, sophomore volleyball player Uma Bajaj and junior soccer player Gabrielle Wolf have continued their athletic training outside of school through club sports.  

Bajaj, a volleyball player for Actyve Volleyball, said that her team took two months off from practice when COVID-19 first broke out in March. Later on in the 2020 year, however, her club adapted to the COVID-19 guidelines and found new ways for her team to continue practicing. 

“We did beach practices outdoors starting in June but started indoors around August,” Bajaj said.  

Similarly, Wolf who plays soccer for Santa Monica Surf Club took a four month break starting in March and did not return to practice until July. Despite the fact that her team could not practice, Wolf’s coaches sent the team weekly workouts focused on strength and conditioning designed to keep the team in shape. 

“The way the club put forth its rules and how they were going to do it seemed very safe,” Wolf’s father Jason Wolf said.

Wolf noted that her club took small steps towards the end of the summer initiating the team’s return to regular practices. They also implementer precautions that were compliant with the COVID-19 guidelines.

“Closer to the end of the summer we went into smaller groups instead of before [including our] entire team we were assigned into three groups of six or seven,” Wolf said. “We would stay in those groups for the entire time until we started practicing with our whole team so that in case someone got COVID, that only that specific group would have to quarantine, and not the entire team.”

Both Bajaj and Wolf’s teams are back to practicing and having games. The state of California has stricter regulations than both Arizona and Utah. California does not allow contact sports to be played and requires players to wear masks the whole time. As a result, soccer teams, like Wolfs, can not play games against other teams. Soccer teams have had to travel out of state just to continuing playing competitively while others like volleyball have moved practices outside.

“Because we can not play contact in California, we are trying to mimic a game setting,” Wolf said. “We play in Arizona now because it’s the closest state that allows contact playing.”

According to Wolf, her team has had a hard time getting acclimated to teams in both Arizona and Utah. 

“We went from being in this league that we were winning every year and then we’re now in this league that is way harder and we’re losing all the time,” Wolf said. ”We’re just kind of thrown off and playing against other teams in Arizona and Utah who have been playing over these couple months is way harder.”

Despite the different playing regulations across states, Wolf’s team has maintained a close bond. 

Our bond did not change and everyone’s working together,” Wolf said. “But we are gonna take time to get in a rhythm again.”