Sports guidelines differ from earlier seasons as spring sports begin to take place
Throughout the year and the different sports seasons, coaches’ expectations have been changing constantly, and they each have fairly unique policies for their teams seeing that some coaches have loosened their reigns on their athletes where others have tightened them.
Coaches take different factors into consideration when making their rules, such as the lifting of the mask mandate, spring break and different parents’ views and leniency for the children. And the spring coaches have all different approaches on their athletes’ affairs going on outside of the school.
“I would say if you’re in season, you shouldn’t be [going to social events], pretty simply,” varsity mens lacrosse coach Jay Sothoron said. “I know it’s tough for a high school kid to be in that situation, but I also know our guys are pretty serious about lacrosse, and if they lose two weeks of a season because somebody gets COVID, it becomes an issue.”
The school has been trying to limit big gatherings of students outside of school and has enforced a quarantine for those who have not been honest about the contact tracing process, but the coaches also added another layer of enforcement and urged students to stay at home and away from risk.
“For [the team], a lot of it is on your honor, the honor code, because again, I’m not going to be looking over your shoulder on a Saturday night, so it depends really on whether they are policing each other and policing themselves,” Sothoron said. “The guys have all signed the school’s honor code.”
All coaches have different ways to make sure their athletes are doing the right thing.
“Our coach, Maggie [Koch] just talks to us during practice, constantly reminding us to be responsible teenagers and we need to make our own decisions by ourselves, but with that being said, we need to make sure those decisions are the right ones,” senior and varsity womens lacrosse captain Lizzie Kelley said. “We need to make these decisions, especially on the weekends, and keep in mind that we could be putting the whole team at risk and if you go to group settings without masks and do get COVID or are exposed, you will be quarantined and might sabotage a lot of the team’s season by two weeks.”
Like womens lacrosse, most coaches are encouraging athletes to stay safe because if one person on a team tests positive, the whole team has to quarantine for fourteen days, causing teams to lose a large chunk of their season.
“The whole team would be out for two weeks if someone was to get the virus which would cause us to lose all of our momentum we had built up during this season,” junior and mens baseball player Mason Link said. “Pretty much everyday, our coach, [Albert Najera], reminds us to be careful and safe, wear our masks, always spread out and he has also emailed our parents and told them and us again to make sure we are being safe [outside of school].”
Though the state mask mandate was lifted, the school’s policy on mask-wearing has remained the same, and thus it applies to sports as well. Violations of the coaches’ mask-wearing and out-of-school expectations are met with different punishments.
“I had a pretty significant group of rules before COVID, and if you’re doing something out of character or you’re jeopardizing the season in any way, I have the right to remove you if I see fit…,” Sothoron said. “With COVID, it’s going to have to be situation-by-situation, but if our guys were involved in a big [gathering], number one we would not have them back on the team right away just from a safety standpoint and, number two, there would probably be some suspensions handed out.”
Other coaches with less strict policies express disappointment in players who have made the team quarantine due to contact tracing.
“I think [our coach] will just be disappointed in us because she’s told us that the responsibility’s on us and it’s our job to stay safe and free from COVID,” Kelley said. “I think it’s more going to be guilt than actual punishment because she can’t really control what happens.”
Spring break traveling also presented a dilemma for some coaches.
“Our coach is wanting to keep us all in the country so we don’t have to quarantine because we have a couple of games in those two weeks following the break, but at the same time, he knows that he can’t really force us to stay in the country,” Link said. “He asked us for a list of who will be out so those who would be out would have to use substitutes for those games.”
Sothoron rocked back and forth on what he wanted for the boys on the lacrosse team to do during the break.
“I don’t think traveling equals danger and risk, that’s not my issue as much, but I think it depends on what you’re doing on spring break,” Sothoron said. “You could go to Mexico and be perfectly safe but you could also stay home and be very irresponsible, so I think a lot of people lump it all together and say that if you travel, you’re putting yourself at risk, but I think it’s how you carry yourself and what you do whether you’re at home or traveling.”
After the break, sports have continued to hold practices and games with less people because of the quarantine required for those who leave the country. Some of those who left the country received a PCR COVID-19 test in order to be able to come back to school and sports. Still, COVID-19 is a looming issue with the worry of travel sickness behind.
“We can’t control what kids are doing outside of practice, but we encourage them to do the right things like wear a mask, try to be as smart as you can around others, but we also recognize that you could get the virus from walking through the grocery store, and there are a lot of places where that could happen, but the only thing we can do is control what we can control,” Sothoron said.