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Sarasota Thursday, Mar. 26, 2020 2 months ago

Sarasota athletes stay active despite social distancing

Sometimes unconventional methods have to be used to exercise at home.
by: Ryan Kohn Sports Reporter

As the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to shut down the sports world, athletes are taking more extreme measures to stay in shape. 

Some high school athletes, such as Cardinal Mooney High beach volleyball senior Sophia Hritz, have even done the unthinkable: Chores. 

"I have been raking a lot of leaves and putting them in bags," Hritz said. "To me, that's a workout. I get covered in the same amount of sweat, right? I'd rather be doing that than lying in my room all day."

Hritz has also stayed busy by painting her family's laundry room yellow — she might add a clothesline design later, she said — and creating a doghouse for her two Boston terriers, Apollo and Fenway, out of cardboard. It now sits in the living room, Hritz said, and the dogs have taken a shine to it. 

Hritz has done regular exercises, too, she said. Her mother, Sally Hritz, a veteran of the fitness industry, has given her a schedule to follow. Every other day involves something to get the blood pumping, whether that is going for an uphill run at Celery Fields, doing sit-ups and air squats in her room or swimming in the family's backyard pool.

The one thing she cannot do by herself is practice her sport. Outside of Mooney, Hritz also plays for the Siesta Key Juniors club team, as do a handful of other Cougars. That team qualified for the 2020 AAU Junior Volleyball National Championships in Orlando, Hritz said, but that event, scheduled for May 22-25, is in jeopardy. Missing two teams' worth of friends has been difficult, Hritz said, as has not being able to work on her skills or lift weights in the gym.

Hritz said she sometimes views practice as an annoyance, but she would welcome it now. 

"Not having it right now is sad," Hritz said. "I didn't know the last match I played was going to be my last match for a while. If we got to practice now, my heart would be a lot more in it."

Sarasota High senior Adrien Zambaux said he has been continuing to run while staying at home. Photo courtesy Adrien Zambaux.

Sarasota High boys track and field senior Adrien Zambaux is also still getting in work despite the conditions. On Monday, Zambaux ran six miles, split into two-mile segments, with strength training in between each. Tuesday was a recovery day, he said, where he only puts in light work for 30-45 minutes. On Wednesday, it was back to the hard stuff. 

"I have goals I need to hit, whether at a school meet or on my own," Zambaux, a distance runner, said. "I want to get in the low 4:20s in the mile, or even break 4:20."

Zambaux said he also wants to make it to the state meet, assuming there is one. Focusing on these goals, he said, has made putting in the work easier. There's less temptation to slack off if you remember why you're working, he said. It's still difficult. Not having teammates running with you to keep up the pace has been an odd chance, Zambaux said. Right now, odd has to be OK, because waiting for things to return to normal before practicing again is not an option. 

Elsewhere, entire teams have come together, at least digitally, to provide fans with entertainment. On Tuesday, the Riverview High girls lacrosse team released a video of players "passing" a ball to one another with flair while at their own homes. The video was accompanied by a message to stay safe and continue social distancing when possible. The team's players have also been conducting workouts together via FaceTime, trying to regain a semblance of togetherness while remaining apart. 

I’m the sports reporter for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. I was born and raised in Olney, MD. My biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. My strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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