Malibu Athletes Refine Skills During Pandemic

Liam Moore

It was three weeks after the sports world shut down due to the novel coronavirus outbreak and Oaks Christian soccer player Sophia Prudholme, 16, was still kicking. 

The junior doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. Each day, Prudholme, a forward and midfielder, goes to a wall outside her Malibu home and strikes her soccer ball against it. 

“I try to get as many touches on the ball as I can,” she said. “It’s something I know I have to do to stay in shape and playing good.” 

Prudholme, also a member of the Camarillo-based Eagles Soccer Club, has also been running sprints in her yard and doing ab workouts. Most days, she isn’t out there alone. Her brother, Stevie, 15, a guard for the Paul George Elite Basketball youth travel team, is working on his craft as well. 

He spends time each day swishing shots on his basketball hoop. 

“I just take the things my trainer has taught me and apply them,” Stevie said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the lives of everyone in its wake, resulting in government leaders urging people to stay inside and the shuttering of business, churches, entertainment and sports venues, and anywhere groups gather 

The coronavirus epidemic put an end to the seasons of several Malibu High Sharks sports teams including baseball, boys volleyball, swimming, track & field, and softball. Athletes are observing medical guidelines in order to keep themselves and their families safe but are attempting to stay as active in their sport.

Sharks junior boys volleyball player Liam Moore said he and teammates planned on practicing on the beach after the season was suspended, but before government and health officials deftly explained how important social distancing was. Now, he exercises with weights at home.

“I have always been one to work out on my own,” Moore said. “I’ve started a routine I can do every week—different muscle groups every day.” 

Malibu boys basketball coach Larry Furlong said his squad was going to join a spring league.

“That came to a screeching halt,” he said. “I have encouraged the kids to work on their own as much as they can … I told them not to play games because that’s when you are rubbing on people, sweating on people.”

Steve Prudholme, a past coach in the Malibu Little League and Stevie and Sophia’s dad, urged athletes to do what they can do in their sport.  

“Play catch in the yard,” he said. “Write down your goals of what you want to achieve when things start back up.”

The older Prudholme’s son first heard news about the coronavirus when it was stretching its way from its epicenter in China, but Stevie never imagined the disease would impact America like it has. His sister said the impact of coronavirus is surreal. 

“I don’t think it has fully settled in that it is going to be like this for a month or more,” Sophia said. “It’s kind of hard to get used to because nothing is normal.” 

The sickness’ spread shocked Moore. It put an end to he and his teammates’ dreams of making the playoffs this spring. 

“We were pretty sure we were going to make it to CIF,” Moore said. “It sucks for our seniors. They didn’t get to finish the season at all.”

Malibu swim coach Mike Mulligan, also the school’s longtime water polo coach, wrote in a text message that Sharks swimmers were crushed when the season was ended. 

“I told them to do what you need to do to be healthy and to keep your sanity,” he wrote. “My message was stay positive, strong, healthy and get some quality time with your families.” 

The senior Prudholme said normally his family is flying out the door to a practice, a game or weekend tournament, but that has changed. 

“It’s been good for us to have some family time and hang around the house,” he said. 

Prudholme likes that Stevie and Sophia stay active in their sports even though they can’t gather with their teammates. 

“The downside to sitting around for too long is, the next thing you know you take two weeks off and it’s like you have taken a year off,” he said. “We just try to find a balance of that. Keeping them active but taking it day by day—week by week. Always trying to find the positive in anything that happens.” 

Stevie’s team won a tournament title in Oakland and was dribbling toward a hoops schedule that featured the squad of eighth graders getting ready for high school by taking on older travel teams before the coronavirus shuttered basketball gyms nationwide. His sister just recovered from a hip injury that sidelined her for two months. Sophia’s on-the-pitch action was next to nil this soccer season. 

She said being healthy and not being able to play in games is hard to deal with, but she has adjusted by practicing at home. 

“Its more time for me to get work in,” Sophia said. “Get my skills perfected before we start playing again.” 

Steve said Sophia was itching to play soccer again, but the timeout from sport due to the coronavirus outbreak is different from an injury hiatus. 

“With an injury, you feel isolated and it weighs on you more,” he said, “but now, with the situation where everyone is in the same boat, it helps you feel a little better about it.”

Mulligan texted that Malibu athletes have dealt with a lot of adversity— noting the Woolsey Fire in November 2018 and now the coronavirus emergency— but will overcome it. 

“We will get through it and be stronger,” he wrote. 

Steve Prudholme said Malibu athletes can use the time quarantined at home to their advantage. 

“A lot of them are going to realize they miss whatever sport they play,” he said. “If it’s dance, it’s surfing, whatever the case may be, it’s going to put that in perspective. I think you are going to see some kids really thrive because it’s a chance for them to reset and refocus on whatever they want to do. A lot of positives are going to come out of it, too.” 

Moore, the volleyball player, is preparing for his senior year. 

“Being an all-year-round athlete—with beach volleyball in the winter— I don’t have a lot of time to strengthen myself,” he said. “Now is a good time to get stronger and prevent any injuries for next year.”