Winter sports originally canceled, now back on with new regulations

With winter sports first being delayed, then canceled, the decision of the season being back on, can be a bit confusing.

The main reasons for cancellation at first were “the high numbers of COVID-19 cases and that we had such high usage numbers in the ICUs and that if an athlete would get hurt it was likely that they couldn’t receive emergency care,” athletic director Jennifer Burks explained. At first, it seemed best for athletics to be canceled for the safety of the players and all people involved but now with a few changes, the practices and games can continue. 

The AIA has made modifications to their COVID rules in regards to the winter season. “Only two parents or legal guardians are allowed at the game for each play; no longer are a small portion of students allowed to attend.” The AIA further explained that they will enforce a new policy of “having all schools fill out an AIA athlete/coach monitoring form the day of the game, or [athletes] will not be allowed to play. 

With all the changes being made, coaches and athletes have to adapt to the season in a new way. “We have had longer time to prepare, but no scrimmage or tournaments before our first game to make adjustments with players, formations, tactics, etc. The season is also a lot shorter, so we are playing more games in a shorter amount of time, so there is no time to recover or adjust to different teams’ tactics,” girls soccer coach John Roberts said.

The regulation on masks has changed along with a few added adjustments. “Masks are an AIA mandate so we wear them in practice and games…we are following all chandler district protocols with symptom checks, keeping our teams apart and social distancing whenever possible,” Boys basketball coach Sam Duane said. 

Wearing a mask the whole time during games has not been the easiest on athletes. “It has been an adjustment for all players. It is not easy to perform [soccer] for 80 minutes anyway, and with a mask, it is even tougher. Most people struggle with just wearing a mask. Try running for 80 minutes in one to see what each player is dealing with,” Roberts explained. 

Even though there have been major adjustments by the athletes they appreciate the season they have. “Every player and coach are so appreciative of the CUSD administrators who went to bat for every athlete to be able to have a season, especially the seniors. This year is just more meaningful for everyone,” Roberts said. When the games come all the athletes focus on the game at hand. “Many things are different except when the ball is tipped to start the game it’s still the same game and we forget about all that and play,” Duane explained.

The athletes get to play and even with all the regulations, they are happy to be playing the game they love. As of now, it does look like the season is going anywhere. “Now that we have started, it is unlikely that we will be shut down by the AIA,” Burks said.