The Players Speak. How has Covid-19 impacted high school lacrosse?

It all seemed so normal when the Spring 2020 boys and girls lacrosse seasons began last February.

In fact, the 2020 season began with more promise and excitement than perhaps any other season. 2020 was to be the first season in which Southern Section teams would compete in in CIF-sanctioned playoffs. All expectations were that the regular season would continue through late May, followed by playoffs to determine the first-ever CIF Southern Section Champions.

Headlines like Hofer, Cumming help Foothill pull away from Los Alamitos and Ing, Duffy lead Newbury Park in win over St. Margaret’s told the story of February and early March 2020. and at the next level, St. Margaret alum Kevin Groeninger was finding his place at Bryant.

It all seemed so normal.

Then it happened in a heartbeat. It began with a two-week shutdown in mid-March to flatten the Covid-19 curve. That initial shutdown turned into a season cancellation and now 10 months later, scholastic sports have not returned to California. It is still anybody’s guess as to whether there will be a 2021 season.

The abrupt end to the 2020 season is a constant reminder that nothing is guaranteed.  The uncertainty for the season to come has taken its toll on players at all grade levels.  It doesn’t matter if they’re planning to play in college, playing out their last four years of competitive lacrosse, attend a public or private high school, or if they are newcomers to the sport.  They all miss being a part of a team, and they all just want to play.

I wanted to know firsthand how the shutdowns and restrictions were affecting the players.  So, I reached out to players from programs across the county to see how their lacrosse lives have been impacted. Their perspectives, outlook, and commitment to their teams were consistent. I hope you enjoy reading their responses and their views on the benefits of being part of a team. Let’s hope they all get the chance to play; they certainly deserve it.   

Kai Solomon – Senior, Santa Margarita Catholic High School (Committed to Tufts University)

How did you deal with losing out on the majority of last season?  

“Losing last season was definitely a tough one for me since I had two hip surgeries sophomore year and wasn’t healthy for most of the season and physically I felt great going into last year’s season, so pretty much losing two seasons back to back was difficult. I had also been playing with those seniors for most of my lacrosse career, so the abruptness of the end of the season was difficult.”

How have you stayed motivated, knowing this season is still up in the air?  

“I try to stay as intrinsically motivated, and this year more than ever, I’ve been focusing on the process and just trying to get better every day.”

What does it mean to you to play lacrosse at Santa Margarita?

For me playing lacrosse at SM has been about leaving the program better than I found it. I’ve had three coaches throughout my four years here, so it’s been difficult to keep the culture strong with a new face every year. With Coach Brent, we have a guy who will be here for a while and pushes us not only to be good lacrosse players but great teammates, men, and students.

What advice do you have for any underclassmen looking to play in college?

“For underclassmen, I would tell them to set that goal of playing in college but don’t just focus on that goal. Focus on getting better every day, holding yourself to a higher standard, and outworking everyone. Be someone people look up to: put school first, and be a good person off the field, too, because it affects your recruiting. Most importantly, don’t limit your options. Put down your ego during the recruiting process, don’t be too cool to talk to a coach just because it’s not UVA. There are a ton of amazing schools out there. Don’t get sucked into the trap of going to a school you hate just because it’s a D1.” 

Did Covid-19 affect your recruiting process?

“Covid definitely played a role in my recruiting. Many schools had 5th years, and some schools wanted to see me one more time but couldn’t because of Covid. There was a lot of uncertainty this year, which was reflected in my class’s recruiting. My recruiting process had many ups and downs; it’s really easy to get stressed while you’re in it. I tried to stay grateful the whole time because it’s a pretty awesome experience to feel wanted by schools, and it’s something not everyone gets to do. Even if it’s not going your way, just trust the process, and you will find a place.”

Ed Shean – Senior, Los Alamitos High School (Committed to Ohio State University)

How did you deal with losing out on the majority of last season?

“It was definitely hard losing out on my junior year season. Still, at the time, I just tried to stay optimistic, whether that was hoping for the season to be reopened for playoffs or looking forward to having a great senior year. I just always kept preparing like the season would be reinstated.”

 How have you stayed motivated, knowing the season is still up in the air?  

“I have stayed motivated by always thinking optimistically and preparing like we are having a season, no doubt. I want to have the best senior year I can, and when the time comes, I want to be ready for it. Also, preparing hard now, whether we have a season or not, is important because I want to make sure I am prepared to play in college when the time comes next year.” 

What advice do you have for underclassmen looking to play lacrosse in college?

“I would say the biggest things are to be consistent and have fun with it. Try to find people that you enjoy being around to practice lacrosse or get better with because this will make the grind of trying to become a better lacrosse player feel enjoyable and less like hard work.” 

Have you been able to visit Ohio State for your official recruiting visit?

“No, I have not been able to go on my official visit yet. The hope is that my recruiting class will get to go up to campus this spring to watch a game and just be together, which I’m very excited about.”

Did Covid-19 have any effect on your recruiting process?

“Luckily, Covid didn’t really affect my recruiting process, but it has definitely changed the game for the class of 2022. Unfortunately, some kids with serious talent aren’t able to get seen by many coaches due to so many of their tournaments being pushed back or canceled. Many things are up in the air in the recruiting world right now, and I hope everybody can find a spot somewhere they want to be.”

Logan Angel – Junior, Trabuco Hills High School

Tell me how you dealt with losing the majority of last season.

“Losing the season was hard on me.  I felt like good things were coming and it all just stopped out of nowhere.  I was so sad for the seniors who put all this work in during the off-season and then see that getting taken away from them was heart breaking.”

How have you stayed motivated knowing this season is still up in the air?

“I have stayed motivated by working hard so I can be a step ahead of my opponents when it comes down to playing ball.” 

What’s it mean to you to play lacrosse in high school?

“Playing lacrosse has been such a great experience.  I feel the group of guys are close together and it has made my high school experience much better.”

How has Covid-19 affected the recruiting process for you?

“Covid took a toll on my recruiting process.  I couldn’t play a majority of the summer, which really took a toll since it was the summer before my junior year.  I was thankful to play in a tournament this fall, so that helped.  Hopefully we can play to get more game film, so college coaches can see my game.”   

Cole Peters – Sophomore, Santa Margarita Catholic High School

How did losing last year’s season impact you?

“Because last season was canceled, it became much more of my responsibility to get outside and play lacrosse. It has impacted my schedule of how I practice lacrosse.”

How have you stayed motivated knowing this season is still up in the air?

“I have stayed motivated primarily because of the fact that I want to play on the varsity team. Covid has affected my lacrosse schedule because of the lack of contact involved. 

Wall ball has been an important part of my routine. However, physicality is difficult to learn on your own, and I have to find innovative ways to improve my physicality.”  

What’s it mean to you to play lacrosse at Santa Margarita?

“When I play SM lacrosse, it feels like a family. Never in my years of playing lacrosse have I experienced such a fun group of guys.”  

Adam Kees – Junior, Los Alamitos High School

How did you deal with losing out on the majority of last season?

“It was very disappointing losing out on most of last season. I am remaining optimistic about the possibility of playing this season.” 

How have you stayed motivated knowing this season is still up in the air?

“I have been maintaining my workout schedule and practicing as though there will be a season.” 

What’s it mean to you to play lacrosse in high school?

“Being able to play lacrosse in high school is a gift. It’s an amazing and unique opportunity to have.”

 Brayden Reynolds – Junior, San Juan Hills High School

Tell me how you dealt with losing out on the majority of last season?

“I was bummed for our seniors and the rest of the team because we put in so much effort in the off-season. We were 6-0 when the season ended. We had such great team chemistry and playing so well as a team. Now that is only more motivation to have our next season be even better and to play for those seniors that didn’t get to finish their senior season. 

How have you stayed motivated knowing this season is still up in the air?

Even though our season is still up in the air, we have to prepare like it will definitely happen, so when the time comes, we are ready and more prepared than our opponents. If we don’t have a season, we are prepared for the summer or the next opportunity we get to play.”

What’s it mean to you to play lacrosse in high school?

“Playing lacrosse in high school for me is a time to go out every day and have fun with your teammates and your friends, compete, have a great time playing on the field, getting better each time, and working together to achieve our goals.”

How has Covid-19 affected the recruiting process for you?

“The team and I are struggling in the recruiting process as we are not able to get any new game film to send to recruiters and prove what we can do. All we can do right now is get our grades right and practice as much as we’re allowed to now so we are prepared to show our hard work on film when we are allowed to return to play and take advantage of every opportunity we get.”

 Mateo Peguero – Sophomore, JSerra High School

Tell us how you dealt with missing out on the majority of your freshmen year of lacrosse.

“Losing my freshman season was super tough. It was easily the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through in my lacrosse career, and I definitely have changed a lot because of it. I was very excited to finally play after all the months of practice, so it was upsetting when the season was canceled. I was disappointed in losing the opportunity to play with all of my teammates, and I missed seeing all the guys every day. When everything got shut down, I used it as motivation and began to do whatever I could to get better. Pushups, sit-ups, and faceoff reps in my room became a daily thing. The best thing that has come out of this, though, is that my desire to play is at an all-time high. I’m always looking forward to the next time I can get on the field, and I can’t wait to see what this coming season brings.”

How have you stayed motivated knowing this season is still up in the air?

“I’ve stayed motivated through a positive mindset and just taking it one day at a time. With virtually nothing being set in stone right now, the best thing I tell myself is to try and do one thing to get better each day. Another thing that has kept me motivated is to enjoy the process of developing myself and those around me. It’s hard to picture my season actually happening this year, so that drives me to be prepared and do everything I can to be ready when the time comes.”

What does it mean to you to play lacrosse in high school?

“High school lacrosse means everything to me. It’s not only been a way for me to make friends but also become a better person. My coaches and teammates at JSerra have taught me lessons that I will remember for the rest of my life. I am grateful for all the opportunities the program has opened for me, and I couldn’t see myself without lacrosse.”

Zachary Kim – Freshmen, Santa Margarita Catholic High School

You’re a new lacrosse player. What drew you to the sport?

“I guess what drew me to the sport was the knowledge that I didn’t have a future in football. I played flag and was good at it. Still, being a smaller guy and having parents who are doctors, the dangers of concussions and other injuries outweighed the benefits. I was obviously bummed, as football meant everything to me, so I started searching for a new sport. Talking to friends, coaches, and parents, people told me my energy and quickness would allow me to be a good lacrosse player. So I tried it out and loved it! It’s a lot different, but it makes me happy knowing I have a sport and community to surround myself with during my high school years. I love the amount of physicality, the precision, and the focus there is. I also love that I’m not totally outmatched solely because of my size.” 

How have you stayed motivated knowing this season is still up in the air?

“Motivation has never been something I’ve had to worry about. If I love it, you can guarantee I’m going to do anything necessary to be the best at it. Though I absolutely want a season, I know that either way, what I put into this preseason is what I’ll get out of it, and I’ve learned that hard work yields results.” 

What does it mean for you to play at Santa Margarita?

“Playing at SM means a lot to me. I’ve come to love the boys I play next to, and having a part on the team means everything to me.”

Headline:  How has Covid-19 impacted Orange County lacrosse?  

We wanted to know, so we asked those who know best.

What was supposed to be a two-week shutdown to flatten the Covid-19 curve eventually shut down the 2020 high school season and still threatens the 2021 season.  Last season was off to a great start and was full of promise.  It was to be the first season of lacrosse as a CIF sanctioned sport.

Then it happened, two weeks turned into ten months in a heartbeat.  The abrupt end to the 2020 season is a constant reminder that nothing is guaranteed.  The uncertainty for the season to come has taken its toll on players at all grade levels.  It doesn’t matter if they’re planning to play in college, playing out their last four years of competitive lacrosse, attend a public or private high school, or if they’re newcomers to the sport.  They all miss being a part of a team, and they all just want to play.

I wanted to know firsthand how the shutdowns and restrictions were affecting the players.  So, I reached out to players from programs across the county to see how their lacrosse lives have been impacted. Their perspectives, outlook, and commitment to their teams were consistent. I hope you enjoy reading their responses and their views on the benefits of being part of a team. Let’s hope they all get the chance to play; they certainly deserve it.   

Kai Solomon – Senior, Santa Margarita Catholic High School (Committed to Tufts University)

How did you deal with losing out on the majority of last season?  

“Losing last season was definitely a tough one for me since I had two hip surgeries sophomore year and wasn’t healthy for most of the season and physically I felt great going into last year’s season, so pretty much losing two seasons back to back was difficult. I had also been playing with those seniors for most of my lacrosse career, so the abruptness of the end of the season was difficult.”

How have you stayed motivated, knowing this season is still up in the air?  

“I try to stay as intrinsically motivated, and this year more than ever, I’ve been focusing on the process and just trying to get better every day.”

What does it mean to you to play lacrosse at Santa Margarita?

For me playing lacrosse at SM has been about leaving the program better than I found it. I’ve had three coaches throughout my four years here, so it’s been difficult to keep the culture strong with a new face every year. With Coach Brent, we have a guy who will be here for a while and pushes us not only to be good lacrosse players but great teammates, men, and students.

What advice do you have for any underclassmen looking to play in college?

“For underclassmen, I would tell them to set that goal of playing in college but don’t just focus on that goal. Focus on getting better every day, holding yourself to a higher standard, and outworking everyone. Be someone people look up to: put school first, and be a good person off the field, too, because it affects your recruiting. Most importantly, don’t limit your options. Put down your ego during the recruiting process, don’t be too cool to talk to a coach just because it’s not UVA. There are a ton of amazing schools out there. Don’t get sucked into the trap of going to a school you hate just because it’s a D1.” 

Did Covid-19 affect your recruiting process?

“Covid definitely played a role in my recruiting. Many schools had 5th years, and some schools wanted to see me one more time but couldn’t because of Covid. There was a lot of uncertainty this year, which was reflected in my class’s recruiting. My recruiting process had many ups and downs; it’s really easy to get stressed while you’re in it. I tried to stay grateful the whole time because it’s a pretty awesome experience to feel wanted by schools, and it’s something not everyone gets to do. Even if it’s not going your way, just trust the process, and you will find a place.”

Ed Shean – Senior, Los Alamitos High School (Committed to Ohio State University)

How did you deal with losing out on the majority of last season?

“It was definitely hard losing out on my junior year season. Still, at the time, I just tried to stay optimistic, whether that was hoping for the season to be reopened for playoffs or looking forward to having a great senior year. I just always kept preparing like the season would be reinstated.”

 How have you stayed motivated, knowing the season is still up in the air?  

“I have stayed motivated by always thinking optimistically and preparing like we are having a season, no doubt. I want to have the best senior year I can, and when the time comes, I want to be ready for it. Also, preparing hard now, whether we have a season or not, is important because I want to make sure I am prepared to play in college when the time comes next year.” 

What advice do you have for underclassmen looking to play lacrosse in college?

“I would say the biggest things are to be consistent and have fun with it. Try to find people that you enjoy being around to practice lacrosse or get better with because this will make the grind of trying to become a better lacrosse player feel enjoyable and less like hard work.” 

Have you been able to visit Ohio State for your official recruiting visit?

“No, I have not been able to go on my official visit yet. The hope is that my recruiting class will get to go up to campus this spring to watch a game and just be together, which I’m very excited about.”

Did Covid-19 have any effect on your recruiting process?

“Luckily, Covid didn’t really affect my recruiting process, but it has definitely changed the game for the class of 2022. Unfortunately, some kids with serious talent aren’t able to get seen by many coaches due to so many of their tournaments being pushed back or canceled. Many things are up in the air in the recruiting world right now, and I hope everybody can find a spot somewhere they want to be.”

Logan Angel – Junior, Trabuco Hills High School

Tell me how you dealt with losing the majority of last season.

“Losing the season was hard on me.  I felt like good things were coming and it all just stopped out of nowhere.  I was so sad for the seniors who put all this work in during the off-season and then see that getting taken away from them was heart breaking.”

How have you stayed motivated knowing this season is still up in the air?

“I have stayed motivated by working hard so I can be a step ahead of my opponents when it comes down to playing ball.” 

What’s it mean to you to play lacrosse in high school?

“Playing lacrosse has been such a great experience.  I feel the group of guys are close together and it has made my high school experience much better.”

How has Covid-19 affected the recruiting process for you?

“Covid took a toll on my recruiting process.  I couldn’t play a majority of the summer, which really took a toll since it was the summer before my junior year.  I was thankful to play in a tournament this fall, so that helped.  Hopefully we can play to get more game film, so college coaches can see my game.”   

Cole Peters – Sophomore, Santa Margarita Catholic High School

How did losing last year’s season impact you?

“Because last season was canceled, it became much more of my responsibility to get outside and play lacrosse. It has impacted my schedule of how I practice lacrosse.”

How have you stayed motivated knowing this season is still up in the air?

“I have stayed motivated primarily because of the fact that I want to play on the varsity team. Covid has affected my lacrosse schedule because of the lack of contact involved. 

Wall ball has been an important part of my routine. However, physicality is difficult to learn on your own, and I have to find innovative ways to improve my physicality.”  

What’s it mean to you to play lacrosse at Santa Margarita?

“When I play SM lacrosse, it feels like a family. Never in my years of playing lacrosse have I experienced such a fun group of guys.”  

Adam Kees – Junior, Los Alamitos High School

How did you deal with losing out on the majority of last season?

“It was very disappointing losing out on most of last season. I am remaining optimistic about the possibility of playing this season.” 

How have you stayed motivated knowing this season is still up in the air?

“I have been maintaining my workout schedule and practicing as though there will be a season.” 

What’s it mean to you to play lacrosse in high school?

“Being able to play lacrosse in high school is a gift. It’s an amazing and unique opportunity to have.”

 Brayden Reynolds – Junior, San Juan Hills High School

Tell me how you dealt with losing out on the majority of last season?

“I was bummed for our seniors and the rest of the team because we put in so much effort in the off-season. We were 6-0 when the season ended. We had such great team chemistry and playing so well as a team. Now that is only more motivation to have our next season be even better and to play for those seniors that didn’t get to finish their senior season. 

How have you stayed motivated knowing this season is still up in the air?

Even though our season is still up in the air, we have to prepare like it will definitely happen, so when the time comes, we are ready and more prepared than our opponents. If we don’t have a season, we are prepared for the summer or the next opportunity we get to play.”

What’s it mean to you to play lacrosse in high school?

“Playing lacrosse in high school for me is a time to go out every day and have fun with your teammates and your friends, compete, have a great time playing on the field, getting better each time, and working together to achieve our goals.”

How has Covid-19 affected the recruiting process for you?

“The team and I are struggling in the recruiting process as we are not able to get any new game film to send to recruiters and prove what we can do. All we can do right now is get our grades right and practice as much as we’re allowed to now so we are prepared to show our hard work on film when we are allowed to return to play and take advantage of every opportunity we get.”

 Mateo Peguero – Sophomore, JSerra High School

Tell us how you dealt with missing out on the majority of your freshmen year of lacrosse.

“Losing my freshman season was super tough. It was easily the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through in my lacrosse career, and I definitely have changed a lot because of it. I was very excited to finally play after all the months of practice, so it was upsetting when the season was canceled. I was disappointed in losing the opportunity to play with all of my teammates, and I missed seeing all the guys every day. When everything got shut down, I used it as motivation and began to do whatever I could to get better. Pushups, sit-ups, and faceoff reps in my room became a daily thing. The best thing that has come out of this, though, is that my desire to play is at an all-time high. I’m always looking forward to the next time I can get on the field, and I can’t wait to see what this coming season brings.”

How have you stayed motivated knowing this season is still up in the air?

“I’ve stayed motivated through a positive mindset and just taking it one day at a time. With virtually nothing being set in stone right now, the best thing I tell myself is to try and do one thing to get better each day. Another thing that has kept me motivated is to enjoy the process of developing myself and those around me. It’s hard to picture my season actually happening this year, so that drives me to be prepared and do everything I can to be ready when the time comes.”

What does it mean to you to play lacrosse in high school?

“High school lacrosse means everything to me. It’s not only been a way for me to make friends but also become a better person. My coaches and teammates at JSerra have taught me lessons that I will remember for the rest of my life. I am grateful for all the opportunities the program has opened for me, and I couldn’t see myself without lacrosse.”

Zachary Kim – Freshmen, Santa Margarita Catholic High School

You’re a new lacrosse player. What drew you to the sport?

“I guess what drew me to the sport was the knowledge that I didn’t have a future in football. I played flag and was good at it. Still, being a smaller guy and having parents who are doctors, the dangers of concussions and other injuries outweighed the benefits. I was obviously bummed, as football meant everything to me, so I started searching for a new sport. Talking to friends, coaches, and parents, people told me my energy and quickness would allow me to be a good lacrosse player. So I tried it out and loved it! It’s a lot different, but it makes me happy knowing I have a sport and community to surround myself with during my high school years. I love the amount of physicality, the precision, and the focus there is. I also love that I’m not totally outmatched solely because of my size.” 

How have you stayed motivated knowing this season is still up in the air?

“Motivation has never been something I’ve had to worry about. If I love it, you can guarantee I’m going to do anything necessary to be the best at it. Though I absolutely want a season, I know that either way, what I put into this preseason is what I’ll get out of it, and I’ve learned that hard work yields results.” 

What does it mean for you to play at Santa Margarita?

“Playing at SM means a lot to me. I’ve come to love the boys I play next to, and having a part on the team means everything to me.”

“Playing at SM means a lot to me. I’ve come to love the boys I play next to, and having a part on the team means everything to me.”

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