Practice amid pandemic is ongoing challenge

Masks, temperature checks, sanitized gear among features of athletics during COVID-19

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Mountain Vista boys tennis players with face masks on hiked up to the tennis facility, then checked in and had their temperatures taken before heading onto the courts.

It’s all part of the guidelines created because of the COVID-19 pandemic for practices for those sports in the CHSAA’s Sports A category (cross country, boys tennis, softball and boys golf) that are currently competing.

“It’s one of those things where you are grateful for the fact that you get to play, that you are in a social distancing sport,” said Vista boys tennis coach and Athletic Director Jim Flanigan. “So you just say, what do we have to do so we can get to play?

“We’ve had to take the numbers down so we can’t have as many kids on the court as we did before,” he continued. “I’ve always had a no cut policy. This year, we’ve had to cut some kids. We usually have about 70 kids come out for tennis at Vista and we had to cut it down to 52.”

Football was one of the sports moved to spring as part of the CHSAA’s plan for the 2020-21 year that included four, seven-week seasons and reduced schedules.

In August the CHSAA stated that as part of a return-to-play plan traditional fall sports would switch to the spring as part of four seasons (A, B, C and D).

For now softball players, boys golfers, boys tennis players and cross country runners are practicing and playing.

“As far as practices, no changes” said Douglas County softball coach Dane Craig. “Players have to show up with a mask on and if they take a break they have to put a mask on. We have to take their temperatures every single day before a practice or game. We have to have balls sanitized before we use them. We were supposed to extend our dugouts but actually ours are big enough.

“We have to put in more work preparing everything. We are dealing with one thing after another, most of them kind of driven from COVID. We had to mark off our bleacher for where people can and cannot sit. The biggest obstacle is those whether they are spectators or whatever. If people see us out there without a mask on or kids without a mask, without knowing the rules and guidelines, they call our athletic director and say softball is not following the rules. They don’t know what we’ve been told and what we haven’t.”

Arapahoe boys golf coach Harry Buckner has seen no changes in practice sessions,

“Our practices have been about the same as always,” he explained. “They work on their games individually and are separated when are working on chipping and putting. Golf is the safest game to play during these times. Just hope we can get through the season.”

Douglas County School District athletic director Derek Chaney feels coaches are doing a good job.

“Practices aren’t the same,” admitted Chaney. “They are a little different for sure, as far as screening people when they first go to practice, taking temperature checks and social distancing when we can. We’re trying to do as much as we can. Some things remain the same but some things have to change.

“Coaches want to coach and it takes away a little bit from that when they have to all this other stuff. They are still doing the best they can with it and they have responsibilities to go with it.”

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