An open letter to Los Altos residents (from a frustrated athlete)


Rohan Vaswani

Empty fields and courts are now a common sight due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents of Los Altos, it’s the responsibility of our entire community to follow safety guidelines for a number of reasons — one being so that athletes can practice and play their sports after almost a year without competitions.

Dear Los Altos residents, 

Around this time last year, my days were filled with swim meets, swim practices and… more swim practices. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, I didn’t think I’d get to mirror my chlorine-intense experience this year, but now, there’s an opportunity for me and many others to dive back into our sports.

While this is a major advancement for all high school athletes, the return is contingent on the intensity of COVID-19 in Santa Clara County. For instance, sports with minimal contact can practice under the purple tier, but others require the County to go down a couple tiers before practices are able to start. 

On the behalf of all athletes, I’m asking you, to please stay home, wear a mask and social distance at all possible times — not just when it’s convenient for you. 

Obviously high school sports aren’t the most important reason to follow COVID-19 guidelines. Regardless of your opinion of sports, you should be wearing a mask and social distancing to keep those at risk safe and to free up ICU space. 

That said, sports mean so much to me and many other athletes. Beyond the health benefits of staying active, participating in a sport is empowering. When I’m playing a sport, I feel control not only over my body, but also my mind. I’m able to focus on the moment, and not worry about other stressors. 

Because I can see improvement as I work harder, playing a sport instills a sense of confidence in me and makes me feel strong. This mentality has improved me holistically as a person and, as cheesy as it sounds, I can confidently say that I wouldn’t be the person I am today without playing sports.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I now sit at my desk for hours and hours, and playing a sport provides depth in my life and gives me a chance to escape from the academic pressure, improving my mental health. Especially during shelter-in-place, sports are a great way to simply experience a change of environment, which gives me something to look forward to each day. 

I’m not the only person who feels this way — when The Talon asked LAHS athletes what sports meant to them, the responses overwhelmingly described how sports provide them with a community and a sense of motivation. For many athletes, sports are everything. 

Residents of Los Altos, I hope I’ve convinced you to follow appropriate COVID-19 guidelines to allow athletes to finally have a sports season, in addition to protecting public health. I can beg and plead that you follow guidelines all day, but ultimately the real decision is up to you. 

Please don’t screw this up.