Athletes prepare for socially-distanced winter season

Red+Tide+swimmers+safely+watch+their+teammates+compete+in+a+socially-distanced+meet.

Peter Linnard

Red Tide swimmers safely watch their teammates compete in a socially-distanced meet.

Julia Barlow , Staff writer

After a very different fall sports season, WHS is now looking forward to the winter sports season, which is scheduled to start on December 14 after a two-week delay. Due to the coronavirus pandemic and need for protection and limited exposure, athletes are expecting a modified season.

There were a number of modifications and changes to the sports played in the fall, but I believe our student-athletes and coaches are just happy to have an opportunity to be playing,” athletics director Michael McGrath said.

Just like the fall season, all of the winter sports have been changed to make it safer for athletes, officials, coaches, and spectators. Every participant is required to wear a mask at all times, and no spectators are allowed to come to any inside events: basketball games, swim/dive meets, and hockey games. To the extent possible, they will be livestreamed for families to watch. For swimming, each team will swim at their own pool to limit exposure and travel between schools.

“I’m sad that this swim season I won’t be able to swim with all my friends as we will be broken into small [practice] groups. In addition, with livestream meets the competitive atmosphere of a meet will all go down the drain,” sophomore and swimmer Neel Sharma said.

Some sports have been moved to a different season. Along with two fall sports, football and girls volleyball, indoor track is scheduled for the “Fall 2” season which begins February 23. Wrestling was moved to the Spring season. The winter season does not conflict with the Fall 2 season, except for students who participate in both indoor track and a fall sport that got moved to Fall 2. 

This year is very different and everyone is doing the best we all can to provide as many opportunities for student-athletes to be involved in sports,” McGrath added.

Teams will compete in “pods” each week, which limits exposure for athletes and their families. Basketball and hockey will have two games a week, with DCL playoffs at the end of the season. 

“Covid is definitely making some things harder. We all want to play our best but we also have to keep staying safe in the back of our heads,” sophomore and basketball player Maggie Niemann said.

Other sports schedules still need to be finalized. 

“Skiing is still in the process of finalizing schedules as we are at the mercy of the mountains/ski tracks and what they will and will not allow,” McGrath explained.

Based on the experience with the fall season, athletes are ready to handle the challenges that come from the changes to the winter sports.

“Hopefully, this will be a one year disruption and come next fall we are back to normal,” McGrath said.