Preventing another lost season: Athletes comply with the MIAA mask mandate


Credit: Kaitlyn Mabe

Senior Ella L’Esperance takes a shot while the WHS sideline cheers from behind masks. This year fall sports look and feel different, however, these rules have not stopped players from getting on the field. “Students are doing really well following the rules of wearing masks because at this point, it’s not about masks it’s about getting in as much as your fall sport you can,” sophomore Carly Travis said.

A normal fall usually has students heading back to school, sports seasons starting up and games underneath the bright lights of jam-packed stands, however, this is something that we have yet to see due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This fall, with many schools in hybrid and remote learning models, the MIAA wanted to provide a safe way to play sports.

The MIAA has decided to limit spectators, enforce social distancing and most importantly; enforce mask wearing at all times.

“For right now I think wearing masks [is] necessary for all fall sports because it is the only way we will be allowed to play sports,” sophomore soccer player Carly Travis said.

Many student-athletes have expressed irritation with the circumstances of this year’s fall season, but are trying to make the best of the situation.

“I think [the mask-wearing] is certainly necessary for medical reasons, but not ideal for the actual playing of sports,” sophomore cross country runner Grace Marto said.

One major challenge of constantly wearing a mask is having the disadvantage to easily breathing. The mask increases the difficulty of running, sprinting, defending and communicating with teammates. When playing for several hours in practice and full-length games, it is easy for players to feel frustrated. Nevertheless, athletes understand the necessity of masks, so many keep their masks on and do not complain.

“It is definitely harder to breathe and it has been a change to the game, [but] being safe should always come first,” senior field hockey player Jennie Rosen said.

Many athletes understand the need for masks during close contact play and practice, but some offering suggestions for game sidelines and opportunities for socially-distant mask breaks during practices. In return, coaches realize that masks make it much harder for players to breathe, so some provide time for distanced mask breaks.

“On the sidelines, I think if [athletes] are further apart from one another, they should be able to take [their mask off] quickly and then put it back on,” Travis said. “I feel this way because when you are on the sidelines normally, you have just played on the field, and you are trying to catch your breath. I have noticed when you are really tired it’s hard to catch your breath with your [mask on].”

Every year, and especially this year, many coaches and teachers have dedicated themselves to finding safe opportunities, so student-athletes can continue to learn and play their sports. Several coaches have had the difficult task of enforcing the necessary COVID-19 precautions, but luckily, are complying and adapting with them.

“My [coach has] been really understanding, but also strict,” Travis said, “She reminds us that we need to be respectful to [eachother] by wearing masks, [but] we can take a walk far away from [our teammates] and catch our breath.”

Wearing masks has changed the game and brought it to a different level of play. For some athletes who may have been training all summer feel like they are out of shape due to the masks, while others are distracted by the thick piece of cloth that covers their face.

“The whole point of running as a sport is that you run as fast as you can to get a good time, so meets are definitely the main challenge, [because] that’s when I put in the most effort and therefore have the hardest time breathing,” Marto said.

To the naked eye, many can notice how this fall is anything but normal. However, students at WHS and around the world are trying to make the best under the certain circumstances in order to be able to learn, play and succeed. If everyone follows orders now, some believe we will be able to return to normal sports rules and school soon.

“Students are doing really well following the rules of wearing masks because at this point it’s not about masks, it’s about getting in as much as your fall sport you can,” Travis said.