Coaching during COVID: How athletics prevailed during the pandemic
BY MALIA LAHEY
The main focus of athletics is usually the athletes. However, the CCHS sports coaches have had a hectic season, balancing both their teams as well as COVID-19, which was no easy task.
While trying to keep themselves and their players safe, there were many precautions taken. Each team had safety guidelines that they had to follow in order to have a continuous season.
“Coach Trent and I had conversations about how we can make it through a full year without missing two weeks of COVID lockdown,” girls’ soccer coach Kevin Coleman said. “Our first idea was to not have a varsity and junior varsity team on the same field at the same time so that we could always have enough players to field a varsity team.”
As a result of someone testing positive for COVID-19, the whole team would go into a mandatory two-week lockdown and quarantine. After this lockdown, the only way for players and coaches to get back out on the field or court was to get a negative COVID-19 test.
“We had to pay attention to a lot more rules, checking in before practice and games, adjusting practice, games and drills and making sure our players took COVID restrictions seriously,” Coleman said.
The pre-practice and game check-in consisted of a temperature check and a pulse check. Each player had to fill out a Google Forms document that asked precautionary questions as well as listing symptoms that could signify a positive case of COVID.
“The precautions and restrictions were something that had to be done, with the risk of passing on the infection,” girls’ flag football coach Al Diliello said. “However, it hindered our ability to practice and play to our full potential for a number of reasons.”
With so many changes and rules, teams and coaches had to be extra safe by social distancing and taking certain precautions. Many CCHS teams were able to get through an entire season without being shut down.
“We did a lot of film study in the past years,” Diliello said. “We would all sit in a classroom and review our film; this year we had to reserve the auditorium and spread out, and it was a hassle, so we could only do it once or twice, which was a major inconvenience and change for the coaches to adjust to.”
Due to restrictions and limits, many teams had to take fewer players as a result of the bus only allowing 21 players and coaches on at a time. The select players and coaches were to sit one person per seat.
“I was really grateful that the girls actually had a season, so in that sense we were successful,” girls’ volleyball coach Jill Smitherman said. “Transportation restrictions of one player per seat meant that I had to accept a lower number of players per squad. I typically have 12 for varsity and 15 for junior varsity. I only took 10 varsity and 12 junior varsity [players] this past season and also had limited spectators, which had an impact on the girls.”
Many of the indoor sports such as basketball, volleyball, wrestling and cheer had a difficult time making sure everyone was spread out and made holding tryouts more laborious. The teams had to split people into “pods” and separate people by grade and skill level.
“The hardest adjustment was keeping distance, as it was quite hard to manage while playing a team sport,” Smitherman said. “ I think the best thing about this upcoming season is our new state of mind. We’re in a much better place than a year ago, and we’re very excited about our season this year.”
It was a long year, and both players and coaches had to adjust to this special season and overcome all of its challenges. Running a team and keeping everyone safe is no easy feat and is not to be overlooked. With that being said, the coaches worked to provide the best season possible during a pandemic. They look forward to a returning sense of normalcy this year.