Relief has struck many winter sports athletes after the AIA approved winter sports at their Tuesday meeting after receiving backlash for their previous decision to cancel winter sports due to rising Covid-19 cases.
The decision to reverse the cancelation was made due to the pressure put on the board by many parents and students asking for winter sports to be allowed, as well as the possibility of student athletes finding ways to play outside of school potentially leading to an even greater spread of Covid.
“I would’ve done something outside of school and somehow found a way to ensure I still would get my senior soccer season,” Senior Kaytlinn Meitner said.
The decision to reverse the cancellation of winter sports came as good news to a lot of coaches and students who were looking forward to the winter season.
“I’m very excited for the opportunity for the kids to play,” Varsity Boys Basketball Coach Johnson said when asked how he felt about the decision, “I think that they worked hard since June for this chance and for this season. We were very sad at first when they took it away.”
The decision to approve winter sports came with many required mandates, in hopes of avoiding the spread of Covid-19, that have received mixed reaction.
The most controversial of the mandates is the requirement of all athletes, coaches, and any other spectators in attendance to wear a mask during the entirety of all sporting events, including while athletes are playing on the field.
“I’m not too fond of the masks while competing, but if it means I can still wrestle then I will wear the masks regardless,” senior athlete Taniela Taunima said.
Fans in attendance will be limited to two parents or guardians per athlete, however the school is looking for alternative ways for fans to view sporting events.
“I know that Combs High is creating an opportunity for all games to be live streamed,” Head Varsity Wrestling Coach Miller said.
All Athletes and coaches will be required to submit a Covid monitoring form/wellness check for every game to show that all the requirements for participation are met.
The decision was also made that violation of the Covid-19 mandates will result in the removal of the associated schools AIA membership for the season.
Although some are upset about the mandates, coaches are willing to abide in order to play.
When asked about the required Covid-19 precautions Coach Miller said, “I am supportive of all mandates. If there is a good way to help slow the spread of COVID while enjoying the sports season, then I support it.”
Despite some fearing the mandates will hinder the athletes ability to play, with especial concern of the mask mandate, many coaches are still confident their teams will perform to the best of their abilities.
“I think our players will be able to handle it, I think actually they will grow closer together,” Coach Ben Johnson said.
There is some concern that with so many schools choosing to not participate the AIA may need to reconfigure games and regions to accommodate the lack of participants.
Although many schools across the state are choosing not to compete in winter sports, it seems the J.O. Combs District is set to go on with the season as planned.
With the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine, hopes are high that sports will go on as planned for the rest of the school year and the foreseeable future.