Trying out

Rearranged seasons cause some student athletes to try out new sports


Photo Courtesy of Jasmine Varma

Jasmine Varma leads a pack of runners at a SCVAL race at Baylands Park

Jannah Sheriff

After an early morning running laps around the track for basketball conditioning during the summer, sophomore Jasmine Varma was surprised by her coach’s suggestion that she join the Cross Country team. Having never done the sport before, Varma describes being initially hesitant to try it but eventually decided to join at the encouragement of her friend.  

“I was like ‘I’m not cut out for this,’” Varma said. “It took some convincing for sure. I was kind of thrown into the deep end with cross country and I ended up liking it a lot.”

Varma found the sport initially grueling, but grew to adapt to the new style of training. In previous years, the basketball season would take place from November to mid-March but due to the pandemic, it was pushed to the third season of the year from April to May. These changes allowed Varma to participate in Cross Country, Basketball and Track and Field consecutively. 

“The first two weeks of cross [country], I didn’t know what I was doing at all,” Varma said. “At that point, it was all just a mental game, like, ‘How far am I going to push myself until it doesn’t hurt anymore?’ I had no experience running at all, so it was like ‘Alright, let’s see how much I last.’”

Jasmine Varma runs the open 400 meter race at a home dual meet (Photo Courtesy of Jasmine Varma)

Similarly, sophomore Amy Hu, who had played basketball her freshman year, joined the MVHS dance team for the first time this year. 

Aside from the Mommy and Me classes she remembers taking as a child, Hu first began taking dance classes outside of school her freshman year once or twice a week. According to Hu, although she didn’t join the school team at the time due to the large time commitment and feelings of intimidation she experienced because of her her relative inexperience compared to other dancers, she decided to join this year on an impulse. 

“The fact that I made both decisions happily really played a positive role in this transition and I’m honestly glad that I got to experience both things,” Hu said. “Both teams are really supportive and the transition has been made super smooth because of it.”

Although she found the team welcoming, Hu remembers having trouble adjusting to the sport itself; for example, she spent months learning the basic steps over Zoom before meeting in person for the first time to film for the team’s annual Winter performance. The team managed issues with lag and mirroring moves while practicing in the online format, which Hu believes caused dancing in-person to be a bit “confusing” as they had to coordinate together for the first time without the setting of zoom.  

“When [I’m] on Zoom, I’m stuck in my room, can’t do jumps, I can’t run, I can’t do anything that is too big, so that was an issue,” Hu said. “Especially as my first year on the dance team, it was really hard. Online, everyone was really supportive, but in person, you can really see that we keep redoing it as a group until everyone gets it right and I think that’s just a good way to promote teamwork.” 

The rearranged seasons also compelled senior Christy Feng to join Cross Country this year, a sport that she participated in during middle school before transitioning to water polo and swimming in high school. Despite leaving the sport when she entered high school, she continued running in her free time before finding the “perfect opportunity” to revisit the activity when the Water Polo and Cross Country seasons no longer overlapped. 

“I’ve always had a passion for running ever since middle school cross country and track, and because of the pandemic all the gyms closed and there were no more practices,” Feng said. “I had to find another way to keep fit, [so] I went back to running and it’s like once you start again you just don’t want to stop — it becomes a daily thing. I met amazing people, made some amazing memories, it made me a lot more fit [and] made me more disciplined with my time and my fitness.”

Jasmine Varma waits to race at a Track and Field home dual meet (Photo Courtesy of Jasmine Varma)

Feng notes that after school transitioned to an online format, cross country helped her “stick to a more set schedule” and organize a routine in her daily life that the pandemic had disrupted. By having practice to look forward to in the afternoon, Feng found motivation to complete her work and be more productive. As a senior, Feng plans to continue running during her years in college. 

“I think for the rest of my life, I will definitely be a runner,” Feng said. “I definitely incorporate it into my every day schedule, and in college I was thinking about doing club cross country as well as club water polo if I have the time.”

Varma notes how she gained an improved mindset and feeling of discipline from trying a new sport this year and working through the difficulties that came with the new experience.

“I’ve just been proud of how my view on perseverance has changed,” Varma said. “I haven’t always been a perseverant person. I’ve always been like, ‘Oh, this is getting hard, I’ll just stop.’ But [now] it’s like, ‘If you hang on to something, there will be a good outcome in the end.’”

Varma intends to continue all three sports in the coming school year, while Hu plans to continue on the Dance team rather than basketball as her main sport year round.  

The MV Dance Team makes a formation during their annual winter dance performance (Photo Courtesy of Amy Hu )

“Looking at this year and looking at how good everyone on the team is,” Hu said. “It was really eye opening for me and I definitely have a lot to improve on, a lot to learn and I can’t wait to spend the summer doing that.”