Falling Into The Sports Season

Karlos Mancilla

As a new school year gets underway, things around campus are looking very different amidst the Coronavirus pandemic that continues to wreak havoc around the world. As school reopens, so will fall sports. As you might imagine, those sporting events may be different from what you’re used to whether it be the in-game experience or the gameday preparation from the perspective of the athletes themselves. The Blue And White had the opportunity to speak with Apopka High School athletic director Edgar Sanders about fall sports during a pandemic.

To begin, I asked Director Sanders about what particular safety precautions are in place across all sports to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission. “We are emphasizing wearing masks and social distancing. Lots of cleaning too!” With those precautions in place it begged the question of what other factors were at play when fall sports were given the green light “OCPS felt it was safe enough to try with Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) sports” In addition, the football team is being issued Coronavirus tests regularly. There’s also been a debate on the national level regarding professional and collegiate level sports on whether or not to permit fans at sporting events due to the safety of the athletes and those very fans. At Apopka High School, “Right now it is pretty much 2 tickets per player,” Sanders said. “We will see if things change.” In 2020, it’s become the norm to prepare for a potential worst-case scenario. Sanders pointed out “that [if] COVID becomes too much across the campus and/or sports teams. The worst case is that school or teams are shut down with in-person learning and playing.” As far as winter and spring sports are concerned, it seems that the athletic department is moving full steam ahead

 Scenes like this are unlikely to been seen this year due to social distancing

Now, for a coach’s perspective, The Blue And White spoke with longtime swim team coach Jerry Russell. When asked about what specific safety protocols he’ll have in place, Russell said, “We are limited to only 50 people on the pool deck at a time. Kids have to wear masks before they get into and out of the pool. Coaches have to wear masks. We have a maximum number of seats we can use on the bus”. As for the impact of the virus on the competition itself, Russel stated that “it’s [the swimming season] is shortened, very few meets, much less than usual. The FHSAA has loosened some competition regulations, so an athlete will not be prevented from competing in the state finals if they have not participated enough meets,” Russell adds. Pandemic aside, the swim team itself hasn’t had any roster turnover, so expectations are relatively high. “Pretty good for the girls; only have nine boys though, and that is a small number,” Russell reflected. Russell also tells us that one athlete to watch out for is Senior Kaelyn Gadberry and says “she’s a very, very competitive athlete”.

In the end, while the year has been full of uncertainty, be certain of one thing: fall sports will be played this year. While these events may look different, sports can serve as a reminder that the power of the human spirit can get us through good times and bad times. Whether you’ll be following the football team’s attempt to return to the state championship, the bowling team’s quest to win their sixth national title in seven years, or any of the other fall sports, rest assured– fall sports are here!