New rules pose challenges to the return of winter sports


Photo courtesy of Dillan George.

Dillan George, a junior on the basketball team, scoring a basket during a game pre-COVID. The conditions while playing will be relatively similar for the upcoming season. Players are not required to wear a mask during games and will be able to play much like they have in years past.

By Paige Tasin, Assistant Arts Editor

Many people wondered what school would look like upon returning to in-person learning. Athletes especially questioned what their sports seasons would look like. After having a few months to warm up to playing sports during the pandemic, most of which took place outdoors where transmission rates of the virus are lower, it is finally time for the winter season to begin, the season of indoor sports.

Most athletes can understand the negative connotations that go along with indoor sports and COVID-19 regulations. How are most indoor sports supposed to continue amidst the pandemic? Are athletes expected to perform their activities in masks? How will schools keep transmission of the virus low with all of these new factors that most fall sports did not have to deal with?

Each winter sport has a different approach to these new regulations. However, one unanimous decision for all winter sports is the requirement that all student athletes be vaccinated. In sports that have extremely close contact, like wrestling, this is an important factor for team safety.

“[In] a sport with so much contact I would be nervous to wrestle somaeone who has a higher chance of getting the team sick,” WCHS senior and wrestler Mike Merola said.

The WCHS wrestling team also focuses on making sure everyone is following the other aspects of COVID-19 safety rules.

“Before practice and when we aren’t actively wrestling everyone must wear a mask, and mats are cleaned often,” Merola said. “[Otherwise] COVID hasn’t affected us much, we still have a great team, where everyone is excited to be back”.

Teams are not only affected by the pandemic but also by the decreased numbers of participants. It seems that fewer students are showing interest in sports since the return to in-person learning.

“COVID has made it challenging to engage prospective and current team members,” WCHS junior and basketball player Dillan George said. “We had significantly less girls try-out for basketball this year, making it difficult to fill the JV roster.”

Other teams, such as the swim team, have not been as affected by a lower turnout of athletes.

“Swimming luckily hasn’t changed much since the pre-pandemic era,” WCHS senior and swimmer Andrew Sidawy said. “Although the season has just begun, the large turnout and all around atmosphere have made it pretty apparent that everyone is ready and excited for a fantastic season.”

Team traditions have also been limited or restricted due to the pandemic. Events that would have been regular team bonding moments are not allowed or heavily restricted. 

“We are having a hard time hosting more casual indoor team events, such as [a] sleepover,” George said. “These situations are unprecedented so we just don’t know the rules and regulations at this point in time.”

However, these regulations have not terminated the team spirit and bond that is evident amongst the team.

“We still see each other 2 hours a day, 6 days a week, if not more,” George said. “It’s hard not to bond in that time.”

No WCHS athletes are required to wear masks while competing in their events, which is a relief to some athletes.. Playing a sport for hours with a mask on can be a challenging part of competition. 

“Running in a mask can be very exhausting,” WCHS junior and indoor track runner Justin Chai said. “Having to run at indoor sporting arenas with a mask would be very uncomfortable, so I am thankful that I don’t have to worry about that aspect of competing.”

Overall, most athletes are just thankful to be able to practice their sports again, regardless of COVID-19 restrictions. of 

“I am very excited for the season,” Chai said. “The atmosphere is as great as it was pre-pandemic, and I am thankful for a great team to be able to compete with.”