WAHS Athletes Reflect on How COVID-19 Affected Their Athletic Seasons


Credit: Maxwell Creager-Roberts

The gym lobby is set up to exercise protocols before athletes can enter to practice.

Alex Noth and Tatiana Bird

With sports looking different this winter due to the COVID-19 pandemic, several protocols have been instituted in all WAHS athletic activities to allow athletes to play their sports.  Before even entering practices, athletes underwent rigorous scrutiny to determine whether they had been infected with the virus or not.

“So when we got to practice we were asked questions like, does your head hurt, have you been coughing, and loss of smell or taste?” said sophomore Natalie Smith, a girls basketball player. “Then, they asked if we had had any COVID exposure then we got a temperature check and hand sanitizer for practice.”

For wrestling, they added an additional protocol to ensure student safety.  “To prevent it [the spread of COVID-19] for wrestling, we have one partner. And that’s the only person that we wrestle with, for that whole practice, or basically for the whole season,” said Joey Burch, a junior on the WAHS wrestling team.  “So I’m not really interacting with other people on the team if they’re not my partner.”

Similarly, the swim team also practices with the same people. “We do pods of five or four,” said junior Matthew Heilman.  “We definitely had the same pods at the beginning of the year.”

The sports teams all tend to use the same baseline protocols such as mask-wearing and hand sanitizer, but certain sports have also found it necessary to adapt their safety procedures to fit their particular sport in order to make it as safe as possible.

But, these protocols also relied on the students’ honesty about answering the questions they were asked before entering their practice or games.

“I think as long as everyone was truthful and honest in their answers and not coming to practice if you did have a sore throat that day or did have some sort of symptoms that might be COVID,”  Smith said.  “I think just being aware and honest with the decisions really helped us”

But the students feel safe with the current safety protocols.

“I felt good. I feel like it was really under control,” Smith said.  “I think that they were pretty good”

“They’re all reasonable,” Burch said about the COVID protocols.

Despite these reasonable safety protocols, there have been several students who have chosen not to play for the season.

“We only have six kids who are wrestling, but last year, we had 20 or 25.” said Burch. Several swimmers have chosen not to participate in the swim season due to COVID-19 as well according to Mr. Bledsoe, the WAHS swim coach.

Although there were numerous restrictions and protocols in place that prevented athletes from having a normal athletic season, WAHS athletes maintain an optimistic outlook and are grateful to have the opportunity to continue their athletic endeavors.

“I looked at it as something I can’t take anything for granted. This year could have been canceled just as easily as it happened,” Burch said.  “So I’m just grateful to have a season.”

“But, obviously, for the circumstances, I think it was just awesome that we got to play and were able to  get to know each other during practice and really build a team.”  said Smith. “I think we were pretty close for the circumstances and able to really connect on that sort of level.”