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Column: City Section athletes must take control of own future in uncertain times

Mason White (19) lifts the winning plaque as Birmingham celebrates after the 2019 City Section Open Division title game.
Mason White (19) lifts the winning plaque as Birmingham celebrates after the 2019 City Section Open Division title game.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

It’s time for City Section athletes to rise up and take initiative in a time of uncertainty.

Since March 16, when all Los Angeles Unified School District schools were closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, City Section athletes have been on their own. Coaches are banned from physical contact with their students until school resumes Aug. 18.

Some have stayed in contact through video conference calls. Some have participated in competitions or combines out of state or locally, willing to risk violating county health guidelines to try to impress college recruiters who are stuck on their campuses through Aug. 31.

On July 20, the California Interscholastic Federation, the governing body for high schools athletics, is supposed to announce whether any sports will take place this fall. The signs are not optimistic.

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So what are athletes supposed to do? Many have figured out innovative ways to get into shape, work on their skills and improve on their own while no one is watching. That is the greatest story to tell a college recruiter, and it’s time to tell it.

Enough of the moping. Enough of the waiting for the virus to disappear. If you’ve found ways to get better, let your coach and the recruiters know. Tell them. Show them.

It’s time to take advantage of the many ways to communicate in the 21st century. Speak directly into your cellphone camera and put together a three-minute video to tell your story of perseverance and determination.

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Let everyone know how strong you’ve gotten; how you’re taller, bigger and faster. Get a little brother or sister to hold the camera to show you lifting a big water bottle in the garage or sweating in the park while running. Tell them your grade-point average. Show them your personality and your refusal to sit at home playing video games.

Most of all, reveal a personal story about overcoming adversity and show how you intend to keep fighting, keep improving and keep dreaming.

This is your resume to a college recruiter. Don’t embellish. They will check with your high school coach and immediately hit the delete button if they learn it’s not true.

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Be honest. Be direct. Be confident. Be realistic.

And it’s not just City Section athletes who need to take action. It’s Southern Section athletes too. Your high school coaches can do only so much pushing and prodding.

“The kids who somehow put in the work, they’ll be ahead of the ones who didn’t,” Rolling Hills Prep basketball coach Harvey Kitani said.

These are unprecedented times. Don’t let the uncertainty of when sports will resume dictate your future. Coaches want self-motivators on their team. There never has been a better time to show you are different.

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At a minimum, you’ll be creating a diary of this moment in time to look back on with pride. There’s also the chance a college recruiter will notice something when looking into your eyes, hearing your voice or seeing your initiative.

First, though, you have to get off the couch and start doing the work on your own. Stop waiting for an adult to yell into your ear. It’s the time to rise up on your own to create a positive path whether COVID-19 gets better or not.


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