By Mike Has
A hidden cost of the Covid-19 outbreak is how it affected High School student-athletes and their off-season preparation. The most important years for college recruiting purposes are the sophomore and junior years, with the uncertainty of any upcoming seasons, the approach that student athletes across the country have during this pandemic may weigh heavily on any recruiting plans.
In our first article in a series of pandemic and sports stories, we asked a high school student athlete and her parent the dilemmas they face with their education and athletic advancement in the midst of an deadly outbreak.
Pennsylvania District 5 Class 1A Champion Genesis Meadows a freshman point/shooting guard for Lancaster Country Day School in Lancaster, Pennsylvania explains “I have been staying active by doing scheduled exercises provided by Universal Athletic Club’s, workouts that (they) have been providing me. I have been lifting weights and squatting to prepare for the season ahead whether that be AAU or school. I have also been trying to run 2 miles at least 3 times a week.”
Meadows father, Shayne D. Meadows further elaborates on her preparation “as far as training, Genesis trains 5 days a week. She trains virtually, speed and strength. She shoots about 300 shots a day. I work with her on her dribbling and understanding basketball situations.” With gyms and many parks being closed to the public, he further explains how they have worked around the pandemic working at home “currently we are using the app HomeCourt to track her shots. It does a great job tracking shooting angle(s), shots attempted, shots made and where on the court she is taking the shots. It is next level technology that is all on your phone.”
Meadows is looking to capitalize off of a freshman season in which she averaged 9.85 points per game with 34 total 3 pointers made. However, she states that the Covid-19 crisis that we are experiencing as a country may have a ripple effect on the growth she wants to make. Meadows states “the pandemic has really affected my AAU season. I would have been playing for a completely new organization called East Coast Prep, but now I am assuming that the pandemic will not allow me to play this summer.”
If basketball was her only sport, then Covid 19 possibly being eradicated by basketball season would be a wishful scenario, but Meadows is a 2 Letter student-athlete “I also play field hockey in the fall” she states “and I am also doing the sports performance training and trying to run 2 miles at least 3 times a week to improve on my agility and quickness. I play the position of center back (defender).”
Meadows who recently turned 15 years old displayed the wiseness of a vet as she explains what she looks forward to in her upcoming season “next year, I am looking forward to just improving as a player. We won’t have our 5 seniors so that means that I have to step up and take on this new opportunity. I want to improve on my mental toughness because that is probably one of my weaknesses as a player. I need to be able to have a steady mind through any situation out in the court in order to lead my team.” Her father proudly explains the leadership role that she is taking on this offseason to be prepared for next season “Genesis has invited teammates and friends to workout with her.”
With the emphasis being put on winning or winning at all costs sometimes stealing the joy of the game from children Meadows exhibits a love for the game that lessons can be found in every situation as detailed in her favorite game “my favorite game was definitely when we went up to Lebanon to play against Lebanon High School. This is my favorite game because at the end of the game I hit a game tying shot that put us into overtime, but we didn’t come out with the outcome that we wanted. Even though we lost, the game tying shot was the highlight of my season, minus our district title. I felt a rush of energy that I’ve never felt before and I loved it.”
She further explains her joy with basketball “I love how you can never be the best at basketball. There is always something to improve on and get better at. Plus, you can positively effect your team even if you’re not the best player on it.” Her season individually and as a team was successful for this unfazed freshman “my season went really well. We ended up being 23-4 while also being 18-0 late in the season which was a really big accomplishment. We won our section title and we went to the Giant Center in Hershey (Pennsylvania) to win the District 5 Class 1A District title. We went in to win our first round of States but then ended up loosing our second round. Overall, we had a record breaking season at our school. We had team awards and I got Rookie of the Year and I also got recognized a few times in the local newspaper as a freshman who could be doing big things in these next few years of high school.”
Covid 19 has forced Meadows and children like her to adjust “the main thing I miss about school is just seeing all my classmates, friends, and teachers in person.” The shutdown for academics is easier to work around than a shutdown for athletics and lets hope we do not have to go through this again. Meadows’ father, Shayne an educator and co-founder of the educational mentorship non-profit Advantage Lancaster practices balance and prioritizes her education as a foundation to her growth, he shares “Genesis’ education has always been one of the most important aspects of her development as a young adult. Her school, Lancaster Country Day was prepared weeks in advance to provide instruction on-line. So the transition from being in a brick and mortar building to being at home has not been a big adjustment academically. However, there are social aspects of school that Genesis misses and all kids need/want to experience. I rarely have to check over Genesis’ work but we will discuss what she is learning in her classes on a daily basis.”
Shayne reveals his emotions for his daughter as she works to compete at a high level “Genesis playing sports is a nerve racking experience. I thought I (would) take more enjoyment in seeing her play but I find that I worry about (her) being so young on a ‘big stage.’” But to make sure she is ready for the “big stage” or any stage during this pandemic they will continue to use their time productively “the plan is to continue to work as hard as possible to be prepared when it is ‘go time.’ The next thing I hope to do is sit down with Genesis and watch each game from last season. I want her to able to see the game from a different perspective.”
When asked how did the pandemic change the outcome of her season Meadows explained “it didn’t really affect my school season because right after we lost our second round game, they cancelled everything, so nobody played a game after that night. It would have been nice to win and wonder that if they didn’t cancel our game, how far could we have gone in States? Could we have possibly even won?” Her father has a different and more poignant view “I actually believe they should have canceled the state playoffs before the first round was played. Before their 2nd round game (and final game) was played, the team was told by the coaches that the playoffs were probably going to be cancelled regardless of the outcome. Connecticut and other states had just cancelled their state playoffs so the precedent had been set.”
Moving forward Shayne elaborates “I don’t see amateur athletes competing on any level, particularly kids, until a vaccination is found.”
Without any vaccine he has this outlook “as far as the upcoming seasons in both fall and winter sports, I understand that if there is virtual learning still taking place across the state, there will not be any sports or other extra curricular activities in schools.” He feels he has been kept in the loop by her school for the first sport on her plate “We have received information about the Fall Field Hockey season but I think that the school is doing it’s due diligence to be prepared for the best case scenario.”
When asked about his daughter playing without him attending games he offers this “there isn’t any scenario where I see kids playing without parents, their peers, fans, etc. So much of being a student athlete is having your family support you. Traveling to and from games/transportation to practices, cheering in the stands, team dinners, are all a part of the experience that parents/guardians play in many student athletes playing career.”
Covid 19 did not cause any questions for the finality of last season for Meadows, but as it stands now, there are questions for next season.
You can follow and see Genesis Meadows highlights here: