Fall sports begin amidst pandemic

Photo courtesy Kate Trifo on Unsplash

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools district has decided to allow the fall sports season to begin, with practices for men and women’s cross country, volleyball and field hockey commencing on Monday, October 19. 

With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, athletes, parents and coaches have been concerned about how–and if–the 2020-2021 sports seasons would be able to happen. 

However, on Thursday, October 8, the district announced that fall sports would be taking place this year. This marked the start of the season for cross country, volleyball and field hockey.

The district released guidelines for practices to make sure athletes stay as safe as possible. To ensure this safety, athletes must wear masks at all times, even during competitions, with an exception for cross country races. Once the athletes have gotten their temperature checked and don’t have any other symptoms of Covid-19, they are assigned to “pods” of 6-8 other athletes that they can practice in. 

While there is risk meeting in large groups, most student athletes feel that the cautionary guidelines enforced by the district are keeping them safe. 

“Our prevention methods seem like they are carefully thought out, and I have faith in my teammates’ common sense outside of practice to keep all of us and our community safe,” said Kieran DeWalt, CHS senior and cross country runner, via email. 

Other than social distancing guidelines, the main differences this season are the later start and less competition. Despite these changes, most athletes are just happy to be back and practicing.

“We are going to work with this shorter season because we are so happy we get to play!” said Carson Overbeck, CHS senior and volleyball player, via email. 

The field hockey team, one of the two outdoor teams that is back and practicing, has had to stop team scrimmages and make sure the athletes only practice in their pods, a major difference from a regular season. The introduction of masks hasn’t been a major issue, only on warmer days said Emma Kashefsky, CHS senior and field hockey player. 

“Many of the people on the team bought “sports masks” that are made out of athletic material rather than a medical mask or cotton mask that are a lot more comfortable,” said Kashefsky, via email. 

Cross country is the other outdoor sport practicing, and it’s the largest team doing so, meaning social distancing guidelines and safety measures are being taken very seriously. Mask wearing, however, can be inhibiting, especially for a sport based on running.

“Thankfully, the first day the men’s team had practice, the district overturned their decision that runners would have to wear their masks the entire time we met as a team, even during our races,” said DeWalt, via email. 

Volleyball is the only indoor sport practicing this fall, meaning the number of athletes has been reduced and masks have to be worn at all times. Like field hockey, each pod uses different equipment which is cleaned after each practice. Their competitions will be livestreamed since they’re in an enclosed space for games.

Although this sports season is drastically different from those in the past, student athletes and their coaches are working hard to have a great season while also staying safe.

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Ella is a senior and the editor-in-chief of The JagWire. In her free time, Ella is likely reading or becoming emotionally invested in a fictional world. She loves all things cats, baking, and Parks & Rec.

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