After a long pause, school athletes are getting back into the game.
Surges in COVID-19 cases paused high school sports state-wide since Nov. 21. Now, new case rates have dropped and athletes were allowed to begin practice for winter sports on Jan. 4.
That day, Mora’s Head Hockey Coach Kevin Nolt lead hockey players through drills at the Mora Civic Center.
“Being able to get back on the ice with players who are passionate about their sport always makes the first day great,” he said.
In addition to their usual skates, pads and helmets, player’s gear must also include face masks. But Knolt said it’s a change his athletes have adapted to.
“Every season we have different changes. The COVID precautions just add even more changes. I think as adults we have a difficult time with change and adjusting to it, but from the perspective of a teacher and coach in the COVID-era I have seen student athletes accept the new challenges and make the most of it. The players that came to practice on Jan. 4 showed the coaching staff they are willing to make changes to play the sport they love.”
Wrestlers are among the athletes who are excepted from wearing masks as wearing the mask could cause an additional safety concern.
“I really believe that we are set up and better prepared than any other sport to safely compete during a pandemic,” said Mora Assistant Wrestling Coach Ryan Sjodin.
“We ask more of our student/athletes, coaches, and officials than any other sport in a normal year ... We require weigh-ins and skin checks to monitor and make sure our athletes are on weight, hydrated, hair is proper length, finger nails are trimmed, no skin lesions (bacterial or virus infections) in order to safely compete. Taking temperatures and having them wear masks while socially distancing during this process is a pretty seamless intervention.”
Wrestlers typically practice in pods according to weight, an experience which limits their exposure to large groups. Competitions are one-on-one, which also makes contact tracing more simple.
Overall, Sjodin was optimistic about the season.
High school competitions begin Jan. 14.