Pandemic changes the way that athletes practice, bond and compete


Positioning herself under the ball, Phoenix Bailey, 12, winds up for a spike at volleyball practice. Photo Credit: Kate Benninghoff

COVID-19 has defined our lives today and affected the way we live. Sports across all parts of the globe have changed due to the unpredictability of COVID-19. 

Many Mountie sports have changed their usual team routine to fit the health guidelines. Cheer is one of the sports that continues to push through the challenges.

”Masks must be worn at all times except when stunting and tumbling,” said Danielle Ross, varsity cheer coach. 

COVID-19 has also affected the development and ability for team members to bond under tough circumstances. Players must adapt and find a new normal.    

“ [Students] learned how to be versatile and work together,” Ross said.

One of the biggest challenges that cheer and most other sports face is athletes missing practice and even games because of quarantine, Ross said.

Soccer in past years has historically been a sport where players are extremely close and team bonding is essential to the dynamic of how they play the game. However, what that looks like this year is entirely different due to the pandemic. 

“Social distancing and team bonding is a lot different,” said Oscar Cardona, soccer coach. 

 Sports overall have affected the way the coach and the players interact with each other on a daily basis. At practice, for example, players must be grouped differently and socially distanced, Cardona said. 

Overall every sport is having their fair share of challenges, especially when it comes to designing practices that prioritize keeping everyone safe, Cardona said. 

Cross country is another sport where team development activities outside of school  had to come to an end due to Covid-19, said Becky Efurd, girls cross country coach. 

The everyday warm-up schedule for runners has changed as well. 

“Wearing masks, stretching 6 feet apart, limited entry for meets, and staggered starts” are all part of the new normal, Efurd said. 

COVID-19 has affected many sports’ ability to work together, including cross country. 

Contact tracing and the inevitability of athletes needing to quarantine for two weeks has certainly affected the team’s ability to work together, Efurd said. 

Similarly, cross country runners have struggled in the area of team bonding activities. 

“Some of the fun has been taken out,” Efurd said 

For wrestlers at Rogers High School, COVID-19 has had a huge impact on how the team thrives in their everyday practices. 

“The kids are doing a great job despite the issue; I’m very proud of them,” said assistant wrestling coach Mark Ruggeberg.

Wrestling is naturally a high-contact sport. However, in an effort to keep the team safe, the amount of close contact between teammates has been cut down drastically.

The wrestling team has cut down face-to-face interactions by 70% in order to better encourage social distancing, said Ruggeberg.

Many athletes face fear and uncertainty about what to do now, said Ruggeberg. 

Football is no different from the other sports in that the way the game is played this year is entirely new.

“COVID-19 has changed football in portions that have made us more safe,” said Jaiden Johnson, 10. 

Like wrestling, football is a very interactive sport and COVID-19 has altered the way the players interact with each other.

“More players are getting the opportunity to play on the field,” said Colton Martfeld, 10. 

COVID-19 has brought many changes to football, but one positive change that it has brought is the effort that players are putting into the game.  

“COVID-19 has brought the best out of people off and on the field,” Johnson said.