By Matthew Rodriguez

Pasadena Weekly Deputy Editor

After playing volleyball for seven years, 17-year-old Malia Wilson was notified her senior season — essentially the last chance she had to play organized volleyball — was delayed.   

“Volleyball was like a second home to me when I was on campus, I played it all the time,” said Wilson, who attended Marshall Fundamental Secondary School. “I definitely miss it.”

Wilson is one of many seniors whose high school sports careers were affected by the pandemic.

High school sports were among the first closures when the pandemic swept the nation. In March 2020, Pasadena School Unified closed its campuses and ended in-person activities. The gyms, fields and tracks were closed to team activities in hopes of slowing the spread.

“It felt demeaning, in a way, because we put all of this hard work in,” said 18-year-old Marshall senior shot putter London Wright, about his junior season’s cancellation.

“It’s just really sad that all the hard work we did to be the best just got put down the drain.”

While there were some hopes for sports to reopen during the fall semester, the surges that occurred during winter ended those dreams of returning to the teams.

However, as cases fell following the winter surge and the arrival of the vaccines, high schools such as Marshall Fundamental Secondary School reinstated their spring sports programs, allowing some seniors to play out their final seasons.

Marshall’s Alex Chew, 18, said he tried to absorb each moment on the field.

“I just enjoy the present moment more when I am on the baseball field with my teammates and the people I care about,” Chew said. “I won’t be able to do that forever. This season would eventually come to an end.”

Most high school athletes do not make it onto a college team. For example, according to the NCAA, out of 482,740 high school baseball players, only 7.5%, about 36,000 athletes, landed a spot on a college roster. For men’s track and field, 4.8% can make the transition to the collegiate level. For women’s volleyball, it’s even lower at 3.9%.

It’s even less likely to receive a scholarship with only 2% of high school athletes awarded some form of an athletics scholarship.

While her peers were able to finish their senior seasons, Wilson saw her senior season canceled. She hopes to continue playing volleyball at her future school, UC Berkeley. Whether it’s playing for a club team or trying out for the Division 1 team, Wilson just wants to get back on the court.

“I’ve been playing volleyball for a very long time. I considered it a part of me,” Wilson said. “Once I lost volleyball, I basically lost a huge part of myself… I really want to be back on the court.”