Off the bench and into the socially distant basketball and tennis courts

Aliso Viejo’s Ridgecrest Park basketball courts in the sun. Katarina De Almeida/Lariat

One of the more peculiar changes that came from the COVID-19 quarantine this year is how the social distancing and stay-at-home orders affected sports players at local parks. While not an issue of much importance, it still has seen an interesting amount of change and thought among the community. Basketball and tennis players from Aliso Viejo’s Ridgecrest Park and Laguna Hill’s Costeau Park are trying to find new ways to stay active and keep playing the sports they love while minimizing the risk of potential COVID-19 spread. 

At Ridgecrest Park, Greg Langdon, is the founder of TENNIS 101, a tennis instruction camp that has been operating for almost ten years now, and just recently the program has restarted their lessons with a one-on-one private lesson plan to ensure social distance. They still offer small group lessons but the groups have to be formed beforehand with friends or family to ensure organization and the possible COVID spread. It’s a great alternative for those that want to learn how to play or simply want to get active while still staying safe from the pandemic. 

At the same park, basketball players are trying to find their own way to keep playing while also remaining active and social. To ensure safety, they only play two-on-two games and only use half of the court, they only play in small friend groups and only do it a week at a time in case any of them develop symptoms. A lot is considered when it comes to playing basketball, but it makes them happy to find something that keeps everyone distracted and motivated. 

“I mean we gotta have something right,” said Nestor Magana, a local basketball player at Ridgecrest Park. “People get bored at being at home and we start developing unhealthy habits so we gotta make an effort to stay motivated and healthy somewhat even if it’s with a few friends for a few hours once a week or something.” 

It’s an impressive amount of dedication and motivation most of the players in the community have. Magana further mentions that they don’t do this just because it’s something they want to do. 

This is something some of the players need since the pandemic especially since the quarantine has affected them mentally and emotionally. Magana, like the other players, wants something that keeps him and his peers motivated and distracted from the world’s current state. 

“It’s the small things that matter to us man,” said Chuie Magana, Nestor Magana’s younger brother, and basketball partner. “He knows that things ain’t going good right now and we need something to help us have fun and not think about the things that got us down or the jobs some of us lost because of this situation.” 

Nestor Magana is a great example of somebody trying to bring the community together. It’s the little things and gestures that come a long way. He does what he can to make time to try to have fun with friends while also a safe escape from the pandemic.