Athletes, coaches adapt to new COVID-19 safety guidelines, prepare for possible quarantines

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STAYING OPTIMISTIC: Baron Smith, varsity football player and senior, gives his team a thumbs up after a football game. Smith said he and his team are trying their hardest to stay safe and distant while also trying to practice to the best of their ability. Smith said the threat of getting a game canceled each week is very possible, but he tries not to think about it in order to play his best.

Hannah Baer

With the COVID-19 pandemic, rules are constantly changing and new challenges occur every single day. For athletes like Baron Smith, varsity football player and senior, playing during a pandemic comes with its difficulties, but these athletes are trying to adapt to the endless possibilities and make the best out of the current situation.

Smith said, “I think (a challenge is) the team atmosphere: not being able to hear people’s voices as clearly, not being able to see people’s faces, smiles. The energy is just completely different than it used to be because everybody is covered up. It’s just a different energy than Carmel football is used to.”

With contact sports such as football, there is always a possibility of an athlete spreading COVID-19 to other teammates, which would require some athletes to be quarantined or possibly suspended from all practices. Hence, athletes are taking all the necessary precautions in order to avoid that possible situation.

“I personally take responsibility in being a senior leader and reminding the guys to stay distant,” Smith said. “I know I have to lead by example so I make sure I wear my mask and I make sure nobody’s near me so that if somebody does get (COVID-19) and they have to trace back, then I won’t be a part of it and as many guys as we can get will be able to play.

Due to the constant possibility of an athlete contracting the virus, coaches run practices differently this year than in the past. By following these new precautions, coaches are hoping to reduce the number of positive cases.

ROLE MODEL: Baron Smith, varsity football player and senior, leads his team out of the locker rooms. Smith said he takes the responsibility of being a leader and reminding his team to stay distant. Smith said he wears a mask whenever he can to set an example and to lessen the spread of a possible case so that many players can get out on the field.

“We’re constantly thinking about spacing out and just keeping distanced,” Smith said. “Coach is always trying to remind us (about social distancing).”

With the new restrictions, coaches have been open to adapting to any and all situations. Frank Dixon, head women’s soccer coach, focuses on  reminding the athletes about the new safety precautions and guidelines that come with practicing during a pandemic. These coaches are also ready for a situation where an athlete would need to be quarantined after a possible positive case.

According to Dixon, Aaron Bosket, the strength and conditioning coach, has put together an at home workout session for the women’s soccer team. Dixon also discussed the possibility of an athlete testing positive for COVID-19 and the ways he is working to keep those numbers minimal.

Dixon said via email, “When we selected teams, I kept more players on each team in case we had any players who had to quarantine because they came in contact with someone with COVID-19 or tested positive themselves.”

Even though COVID-19 has had a major impact on sports, coaches are still working on keeping the season as normal as possible. There is always a possibility for cancelations of games, but many coaches, like Dixon, plan to just focus on the current moment.

“We are taking the season one day at a time. Things change so rapidly that you need to be prepared for the 24 hours in front of you and not worry about what comes after that day,” he said via email.

Similar to Smith, Morgan Ulrey, women’s varsity volleyball player and senior, has also had to become familiar with the new adaptations along with the endless possibilities that can happen with playing during a pandemic. She talked about the effects of the virus on practice and how things have changed this year.

Ulrey said, “Honestly we’re just being very careful like definitely wearing masks in practice. We’re definitely doing six feet apart when we’re in huddles or when we’re around each other, we space out.”

Since COVID-19 affects the amount of time athletes are allowed in the gym or field, athletes like Ulrey are focused on making the most out of the limited time they have.

“When we get in the gym, we’re doing our business, we have a lot to cover and we are very focused and we are just playing until we can’t. And we are hoping we don’t have to have that happen,” she said.

For athletes and coaches, working through a pandemic is a difficult task, but they are doing their best and making the most out of the current situation. Even with the challenges, Smith is staying positive.

Smith said, “We just try to prepare like normal. We know there’s a threat of getting canceled every week, but we try to avoid thinking about (games getting canceled) and just practice to our fullest no matter what. And if we get canceled, we get canceled, but at least we tried our hardest.”

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