By: Mint Suetrong, Contributing Writer
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the world in more ways than one. Whether big or small, the pandemic has affected everyone’s lives. I had the amazing opportunity of interviewing one player from Traill International School’s U16 and U18 Basketball Team, newly Champions of the 24th PHANAT CUP 2020, on how the team overcame COVID-19 restrictions during their tournament preparations.
Troy Cortez, a 16 year old Shooting Guard, joined the team in 2018. When asked to recount pre-COVID Training, his response was as follows: “Before the lockdown, we used to do a lot of scrimmage training- a five-on-five practice game which allowed us to run different plays in a real game setting.” Scrimmage training is crucial to a basketball player as it simulates the intensity and high-contact nature of the games, allowing players to become more familiar to the pressure, as well as create chemistry between the team. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the players were not allowed on the court from the end of March to mid June. During this time, the gym, which the team used for their strength and conditioning training, was also closed. Lacking training machines and a proper court, the team adapted their training by focusing on strength and conditioning in their make-shift gym at their boarding house and introducing new routines to maintain the same difficulty as their training prior to the lockdown.
“As the lockdown restrictions began to ease up, two to four players were allowed on the court, at once” Cortez continues. The team maintained social distancing by allocating no more than two players on one hoop. “Being away from the court for nearly two entire months made everything feel brand new,” the shooting guard reflected, “like it was a new beginning”. With social distancing restrictions still in place, the players focused on individual shooting and dribbling drills, putting in hours of practice to relearn their techniques in preparations for their upcoming tournament. With their resilience and determination, the team was able to recover quickly and proceeded to start discussing new play strategies.
Their victory was not easily won. With back-to-back games and determined opponents, their performance was a testament to the long hours of practice each player had sacrificed to achieve this goal. When asked how they were able to push through the difficult training, Cortez’s answer was trust. Trust in his coach, his teammates, and ultimately, himself. Staying motivated and resilient was crucial, especially during this time of uncertainty. Being away from his family during a global pandemic was also nothing short of stressful; “With the current situation, you don’t really know what’s going to happen. Since I haven’t seen them in so long, it makes me feel like I will never get to see them again.” Though physically apart, Troy’s friends and family provide him with unconditional love and support. “Although I questioned myself sometimes, the loving support from my parents and the bond of our team made me realise that I must keep going to achieve my dream of playing professionally one day.”
“Yes, there were times where I thought about giving up, but when I consider the sacrifices that I have made and all the pain that have made me who I am today, I asked myself, 'how could I just quit?' The harder you work, the luckier you get. Believe in yourself and you will make it.”
To follow the team’s progress, check out their facebook page, ‘Coach Troy Positive Impact’.