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Coaches discuss COVID restrictions and challenges

February 16, 2021

Athletic coaches this year have been forced to navigate the COVID-19 regulations that are assigned to their sport. This has been harder for some coaches than others, as they deal with personalized challenges.

Boys varsity basketball coach Eric Behrens expresses an optimistic outlook on the situation.

Basketball coaches wear masks at all times. Players wear masks into the gym, and at anytime they are not involved in “vigorous activity.”

“We maintain social distancing, provide each player with their own water bottle, spray surfaces thoroughly and follow all CDC guidelines when possible,” Behrens said.

Other school districts allow more visitors and this poses a concern for safety. Because of this, Behrens stresses the importance of following all safety protocols and adhering to all social distancing.

“I think that the district has made the best decisions possible, given a very difficult situation,” he explains, “Health and safety of our students and staff has been taken seriously and all decisions have been made with the best interests of our players, coaches, students and families in mind.”

Girls varsity basketball coach Michael Kroupa has been struggling with his own obstacles: “Due to the lower numbers in the gym I have not been able to see my reserve team nearly as much as I would like to.” Despite this, Kroupa is more then happy to play.

Kroupa believes that being able to play has benefited his girls.

“Once we started practice, I saw a much more positive outlook from the students. Grades went up, [and there was] much more personality in the halls,” he said.

Obviously there are still risks, however, so several rules are followed. A limited amount of people are allowed on the bench during the game including coaches. Everyone also is required to wear a mask while not playing. Players wear masks as much as possible during practice, and limits have been placed on school buses and the number of people in the gym during practice.

Kroupa doesn’t mind following the rules: “It’s easy to judge when you aren’t the one making the call. Kind of like a fan in the stand.”

Kroupa believes there is moderate risk to playing sports during the pandemic, but he believes that everyone, including parents, need to make the decision about what is best for them and then move on.

Swimmers have had to adhere to different guidelines. “Currently we only allow four swimmers per lane with two swimmers at each end of the pool. Swimmers wear masks anytime they are not in the water and while working out. Locker rooms are disinfected before and after practice as well as other surfaces touched by the swimmers,” varsity swim coach Kristoff Berzins said.

Berzins has struggled with COVID more compared to other sports this year. Even with following strong safety measures, him and his entire team experienced an outbreak and had to quarantine.

“I feel that there was very little guidance from the district other than very broad ideas. Most of the rules we had for the team we came up with ourselves,” Berzins said.

Overall, each sector of the athletics department is coping with their own conflicts within their sport. They’ve all had their own experiences but agree that following regulations is in everybody’s best interest while trying to transition into normalcy.

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