As students and teachers have settled into the new methods of education amidst COVID-19, sports teams and coaches are still working out how this school year’s games will be played. Dana athletes are adjusting to their new, modified practice format working to improve their skills in preparation for possible games.
Senior CJ Zwahlen has been on the Dana Hills Varsity Baseball team since freshman year and is now verbally committed to Washington State University. Zwahlen has been playing baseball since the age of five when his parents signed him up for little league. He began with T-Ball and has now progressed to playing as both a right-handed pitcher and first baseman. This year, to adhere to COVID-19 safety measures, Zwahlen and his teammates needed to make some drastic changes to the way their practices are run. When baseball practices began this year, the team was only allowed to practice in small “pods” of students. There was no sharing equipment (including baseballs) and practices were limited to conditioning. As time progressed, California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) granted the team the ability to share equipment. Equipment was shared in an atypical manner, gloves were needed to pick up baseballs and each player needed to bring their own bucket of baseballs. Considering that the team was not even allowed to play catch with each other, shows how much of an adjustment this year’s safety regulations have impacted the team. Recently the rules for practices have been updated allowing them to share equipment in larger pods while at the same time, staying safe.
This year, with efforts to keep everyone safe, Zwahlen and his teammates are unsure of how the season will be played and how games will be carried out. The typical baseball season for Dana is 30 games played against Southern Californian teams like El Toro, Capo, Tesoro and Mission Viejo, to name a few. Even amidst the uncertainties of the upcoming baseball season, Zwahlen is still optimistic that they will carry out a season. He hopes for his team that there will be a solution that allows a successful stride for a league championship.
Zwahlen has verbally committed to Washington State. When asked why he chose WSU over other offers, he answered, “WSU felt as though it was a second home to me and it was the best fit for my future goals as a baseball player.” Zwahlen feels that playing for WSU is right for him because they play in the PAC-12 Conference. He also has a good relationship with the coaching staff and shares their vision of the teams future and strategies for winning a conference championship. He explains how he would like to be a part of their team, stating, “Washington State also has a rich history of great players and coaches, and I wanted to become a part of it while also competing for a trip to Omaha, the home of the College Baseball World Series.” Zwahlen admires the atmosphere of the community built up from the support of students and alumni. In Oct. 2019, Project Back to Omaha (BTO) was started. With numerous WSU alumni donations, they were able to build a new baseball field for their team.
“WSU felt as though it was a second home to me and it was the best fit for my future goals as a baseball player”
When asked if he would like to play baseball professionally, Zwahlen expressed, “I do wish to play professional baseball later in life. It has been a dream of mine since I started playing. I’ve been
“I do wish to play professional baseball later in life. It has been a dream of mine since I started playing. I’ve been working hard toward becoming a Major League Baseball player and I am really excited to see what the future holds”
working hard toward becoming a Major League Baseball player and I am really excited to see what the future holds.” Through his years playing baseball, Zwahlen has learned that failure is short lived. He feels that in baseball adversity is unavoidable, be it missing his mark on a pitch and allowing the hitter to get on base, or walking batters in the late innings of a game. This lesson that misfortune is not permanent has carried into all aspects of his life, and will serve him greatly in his endeavors at WSU and beyond.
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