In three phrases, fall teams return for practice, play

Both coaches and athletes will step up to ensure safe conditions

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Cathedran file photo

The women's cross-country team competes last fall. The squad will join the other fall sports when practice resumes in July.

Caroline Schilling, Reporter

Fall sports are making a comeback. However, certain guidelines must be met to ensure the coaches’ and players’ safety as teams get back up to speed in July.

Spring sports and other school activities were canceled in March due to the pandemic. But as time has gone on, events are allowed again, but with precautions for fall sports. The Indiana Department of Education and other officials have kept schools informed. “It is a three-phase plan that brings athletics back in and that by Aug. 15, we are back to full competition,” Athletics Director Mr. Rick Streiff said.

Players, coaches and other officials look forward to practices, meets and games while following rules to ensure participants’ safety. “We want absolutely to be back with our kids,” women’s cross-country Head Coach Ms. Allie Griffith said. Through this time off, coaches had to stay in touch with athletes virtually due to campus being closed. Now, coaches are taking on the responsibility of following guidelines and getting back to normal.

Coaches are given instructions from other officials on the precautions they should take. “Coaches are responsible for cleaning equipment immediately following the (practice or workout) session,” Streiff said. He has communicated with coaches to ensure that they follow the correct steps. If a sport does use equipment, it will be cleaned in between the uses and used again.

“You touch it, you clean it,” Streiff said.

All of our athletes will be screened to see if there is any possibility that they are sick.”

— Athletics Director Mr. Rick Streiff

Before practices, coaches will record attendance and check the health status of their team members. “All of our athletes will be screened to see if there is any possibility that they are sick,” Streiff said. By doing this, the coaches are able to make sure that if someone is ill, COVID-19 isn’t getting spread. Athletes will also practice and work out and perhaps even travel with the same individuals to try and reduce the number of people they are around.

Many sports teams use locker rooms for practices. On July 20 to Aug. 15 in Phase 2 of the reopening plan, locker rooms are allowed to be used at 50% capacity. “I don’t think soccer will be affected as much because we don’t really even use locker rooms that much,” senior Jameson Browne, who plays varsity soccer, said.

Team travel also may be affected. “That’s going to be a really interesting modification,” said Griffith, who coaches the Irish team with the most number of athletes of any program on campus. While coaches and other officials may have ideas for how team travel will take place, factors may change closer to when the season starts. Finding ways for people to get to competitions will need to occur while following the social distancing rules applicable at that time.

“In the future it should be students driving themselves or getting a ride from either a coach or another teammate,” senior Ethan Eckhart, who plays varsity tennis, said. “I think there is plenty enough of people who are able to take others.” However, sports with large amounts of athletes will need to find ways to transport athletes while social distancing.

Athletes will have responsibilities as well. Where most typically get to practice and change, they are instructed to come wearing the proper uniforms and when practice concludes, they are to go home and wash their clothing and take a shower. Also, the athletics department is supplying athletes with their own water bottles. Streiff said, “Kids will not be allowed to share water bottles. Kids will not be allowed to drink from a water trough or water fountain.”

School officials will continue to monitor the situation regarding COVID-19 and keep up to date on information from the Indiana High School Athletic Association and the Indiana Department of Education.  “The reality of this is it is all still very fluid,” Streiff said.

Editor’s note: The reporter is enrolled in the Cathedral High School summer school journalism class.