Student athletes missing teammates, mental health supports amid COVID-19 shutdown

Internal, Sports

May 19, 2020

Photo by Owen Doane

Jenny Teksen


Many students have been waiting all year for spring to arrive to play the sports they love. For senior students this would have been their last year to play on a highschool team. For other students, the onset of this pandemic stole the opportunity to start playing a sport for the first time, or to make new memories with old teammates. Graffiti sat down with North Toronto students to find out how the cancellation of school sports is affecting them.

Alex Kossak, a  Grade 11 student, said “I’m not usually the kind of person to join sports at school, but I had a few that friends convinced me to join rugby, so I decided to join. I wanted to be more active for both my physical and mental health.” Kossak’s response shows how sports can affect our mental health in a positive way, this could be a stress reliever for many people and create an environment where they feel safe. Instead, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the mental health of affected students cannot be prioritized in this way. For many students, it may feel like their greatest form of stress relief—athletics— is suddenly gone.

Grade 11 student, Marina Papachristos, also shared how her mental health was affected. “I can feel both my mental and physical health deteriorating. The hardest part is motivating myself since I no longer have those support systems or people to be active with.” 

Many grade twelve students are feeling different about this situation as it is their last year to play on a high school team. As a grade twelve student who plays sports herself, I was heartbroken when I got an email from my rugby coach saying that the season is officially over due to the virus. I can say I spent the rest of the day in a very bad mood and crying because I was so upset by this situation. Another upsetting element is the cancellation of the athletic banquet, which would have been a final opportunity for graduating athletes to recognize and be recognized  by their peers. On the bright side, students will still receive their athletic awards despite everything happening during this terrible time, which could be great news for some students.

Although it’s not the same without our teams, North toronto students are improvising! Many students are creating at home workouts and some have invested in bikes, treadmills, weights etc. We are all trying to stay active during this time that we are stuck at home. Athletics are a huge part of North Toronto and all of us are hoping that we will start playing again in the fall. We’re all in this together and we can fight this virus by simply staying home!