As students are starting to get comfortable with doing school virtually, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to make all decisions up in the air. With the hope that the cases will continue to drop, the school district has made a plan to split up the sports seasons into a different format. Instead of starting sports in the fall as normal, the new plan is to get winter sports athletes into action by Dec. 28 and then to run three shorter seasons. The outcome of sports in general is extremely subject to change due to the number of cases and contingencies in place. Athletic Director Lance Gatter said that there are many details to work through.
“We are communicating and watching other states that are participating in athletics right now to learn from what success they have had in returning to play,” Gatter said.
In addition to school sports finding ways to play again, Gatter said he has been closely monitoring professional sports for ideas they are implementing to keep the community safe.
“We recently finished watching the NHL, NBA, MLB, and WNBA have a successful playoff series with the standards and protocols they put in place,” Gatter said. “We will continue to watch the NFL and NCAA as they start their seasons to see what we can learn from those organizations.”
Without football starting in the fall, Friday night lights with the roaring crowd and band are being pushed to a spring sport. With the cases jumping from low to high on a weekly basis, it has been difficult for the district to confirm any projections for the upcoming seasons. Basketball Coach Gregory Lowell said that he is just following everything the school district is allowing him to do.
“I’ve heard that we could still have a 14-game schedule with playoffs,” Lowell said. “I just hope the season isn’t cancelled because the seniors have been waiting for this moment for a long time.”
Senior and varsity basketball players Gavin Hudkins, Nicholas Smith and Aidan Bennett are now filling the role as the leaders for the team. Hudkins said that he is concerned about anything opening up until herd immunity is achieved.
“Even though the season could possibly be cancelled, we’ve all made sure to keep training at home because we want to be prepared for the opportunity to play,” Hudkins said.
Staying prepared for the season at home looks very different for every sport. While sports like tennis that are deemed as low-risk, activities like football and basketball requires players to be closer together. Senior track and field athlete Dylan Tyler said that he doesn’t have access to any weights when he wants to strengthen his legs.
“I have access to hurdles, but there are other components to improving that I can’t work on,” Tyler said. “Not having weights is tough since so much of my sport has to do with explosiveness, especially in the legs.”
In the midst of all the chaos the pandemic has created, it has also opened up some free time for athletes to train. Senior soccer player Brandon Astudillo said that being quarantined has affected his performance but has given him more time to practice the important components to soccer that require fewer resources.
“I’ve been fine tuning the small things to come back stronger for this upcoming season,” Astudillo said. “I’ve even been studying film to get better.”
Even in the worst case scenario that sports are completely cancelled for the whole year, student athletes can still look back at the many advantages to training at home to better improve for the future. When the sports communities are finally reunited, which could be any number of months from now, students will get their first taste of getting back to normal.
“I really hope we’re given the opportunity to have a season, regardless of how modified it may be,” Hudkins said. “I’ve been training a lot more and I just want to get back out on the court.”