Luke Knightley’s budding athletic career has been turned upside down by COVID-19. | Credit: Daniel Dreifuss

As for many standout high school athletes in the class of 2021, Luke Knightley’s quest to continue his athletic career in college has been turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic, which postponed and canceled so many sports this year. Toss in a new NCAA rule that allows college athletes to maintain a year of eligibility, and the opportunities for incoming freshmen to earn athletic scholarships are significantly diminished.

“With the uncertainty right now, all I’ve really been doing is holding on to hope,” said Knightley, a senior, ASB president, and football star at Bishop Diego High School. “There’s not a whole lot of things people can do right now to put themselves in a better position than the next person.”

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As of now, conditioning exercises and weightlifting — the foundation for the success of any football player — have been canceled, so Knightley does his at home before school. But that’s just a small part of the battle.

“I’ve been trying to stay in contact with the college coaches as much as possible to make sure my name doesn’t fall through the cracks,” Knightley said. “I’ve also been getting my body right so that if there’s opportunities to show myself in person, I’m ready for that too.”

From an academic standpoint, shifting between virtual and face-to-face learning has been a challenge even for students who typically excel in the classroom like Knightley. “In the beginning, I was reluctant to get some of my online busy work done,” Knightley said. “I had to put in a little more effort and reach out for a little more help from some of my peers, and we were able to get it corrected. There was definitely a learning curve and a motivation damper when we got shut down.”

The social aspect of Knightley’s senior year has also taken a major hit, as hanging out with friends in the usual manner is no longer possible. “I’ve seriously taken up video games — Madden, Forza, and Call of Duty have been basically my best friends,” Knightley said. But he may be finding the most solace in the outdoors. “I’m also a big fisherman, and my older brother enjoys that with me,” said Knightley.

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