Athletic administrators incorporate games into sports teams’ schedules while following health protocols
Coaches, student-athletes and fans are craving a sense of normalcy, and as sport teams plan daily practices, the athletics staff have found ways to safely incorporate games into the schedule.
“Collectively, we all understand the importance of the camaraderie that is experienced on and off the fields/courts that comes with participating in interscholastic athletics,” Director of Athletics Dan Gill said.
Gill has worked with athletic administrators in placing new regulations for different sports to make sure athletes are respecting the health protocols.
“Athletic administrators from our Dallas SPC peer schools worked collaboratively to formulate a return to play timeline to include a modified fall sports schedule,” Gill said. “A phased-in plan was used to maintain health protocols and a low infection rate, while at the same time, building towards a progression to safely begin interscholastic competition with a limited travel schedule.”
Volleyball players are prohibited from high-fiving the other team; instead, they show good sportsmanship by walking up to the 10-foot line and waving through the net. They are required to wear masks while playing because they’re an indoor sport and in close contact with one another. Most players have found it difficult to adapt to this new regulation.
“[During] the first couple of practices, it was definitely hard getting used to wearing masks, and one player actually had an asthma attack after a drill,” varsity volleyball player Alexa Grabow said. “Now, it’s still hard, especially during long rallies, but I think we have gotten more comfortable with them on.”
Because all teams have home games, many parents and students want to support and show school spirit as it provides an uplifting energy for the players. With strict health rules, it is hard for fans to be able to watch teams play and for the players to maintain a high and positive energy level.
“No one is allowed to come to our games other than senior parents for senior night,” Grabow said. “We definitely [miss] the energy from the crowd because it’s so encouraging. When people in the stands or bench get hyped, so do the players. We have learned so much about creating our own energy this season and maintaining our playing ability along with our energy levels.”
The football and field hockey teams are also limiting spectators for home games. Although there are special occasions where seniors and parents can go and support the teams, they are not allowed in the stadium.
“I absolutely think having a fan base is crucial to the energy of the team,” assistant field hockey coach Meghan Scott said. “The support system a fan base provides is directly correlated to how players perform. Without a supportive coaching staff, I am certain that this season would not be going as well as it is. I am proud of the girls and coaches for how well we are adapting in order to have a successful season.”
Since parents aren’t allowed on the campus, they stand outside the fence of the Gene and Jerry Jones Stadium to show support while also respecting the health and safety guidelines. For parents and students unable to attend the games, there are livestreams of the games.
“All our home JV & varsity [games] can be viewed from our streaming service that we are providing due to our spectator restrictions,” Gill said. “Links are made available to our head coaches by mid-afternoon on the date of the [game] and also posted via ESD’s website and social media outlets.”
Even though regulations have changed some aspects crucial to playing sports, the athletic staff enabled teams to play in a safe environment because they know the significance of athletics at the school.
“My staff and I feel responsible to provide a good experience for our coaches and student-athletes,” Gill said. “Critical to our success in doing so is continuing to be diligent in our daily execution of the health and safety protocols that have been established.”