Fall sports adapt to COVID-19 restrictions

Emma Alderman | @whscharger 

At the start of the school year Mid-East League athletic directors and administrators met to establish changes for athletic events to avoid risks associated with COVID-19. While some changes will affect fans, the actual participants in most activities will only experience small changes.

For events held in Wabaunsee, fans are required to wear masks when social distancing can’t be maintained. Crowd size may also be limited depending on the sport. When fans enter events held in USD 329 buildings they have their temperature taken. Other precautions were put in place such as making payment cashless as much as possible. With our league spanning across four different counties, different restrictions can also be changed or added depending on a school’s location.

In the first few weeks, WHS has hosted both volleyball and football. Regarding mask and social distancing protocols Wabaunsee has gone with an honor system. “There is a lot more communication that has to happen now,” said WHS athletic director Jeron Weisshaar. Before each event fans have to be notified what protocols will be and whether or not they can attend. Weisshaar puts information on the school live feed multiple times a week.

Cheer, Band add equipment for events

The pep band has ordered special PPE masks to wear while playing and director Jamie Rogers tries to keep as much distance between members as possible while in the stands. 

In addition to the masks, the brass will have bell covers and the flutes will have face sheilds on the head joints.

“The masks won’t eliminate it completely, but it cuts down on the amount of aerosol we are releasing into the air,” Rogers said.

Cheerleaders are also required to wear masks, which follows the guidelines recommended by KSHSAA. 

“It’s really hard to yell while inhaling a mask,” senior Raegan Feyh said. They are allowed to remove masks while stunting and dancing. “The crowd has told us we’re really hard to hear,” senior Justice Houston said.

SPORTS face schedule changes due to COVID-19

The football coaching staff enters the field during week one. Coaches are wearing masks on the sideline to decrease chances of transmitting COVID-19.

Up to this point, there seems to be no huge changes for sports, just minor ones. In volleyball the ball is sanitized when possible and teams no longer switch sides. For tennis it’s similar with no sharing of balls. In Cross Country the starts and finishes of races are what are mainly being looked at to maintain social distancing as best as possible. In football everyone who is not actively going in and out of the game has to socially distance or wear a mask. 

Volleyball has not had any cancellations so far but some of the big tournaments were held with fewer teams. Cross Country was supposed to attend a meet in Wamego but due to the large size and early time in the season they decided against it. JV Tennis lost a meet in Baldwin due to being unable to hold a meet of that size and the upcoming Varsity meet will not allow fans. Football had to move last week’s game against Uniontown, which was originally supposed to pled played at Emporia State. 

Streaming cameras installed at field, gym

WHS installed a new camera system last week called Pixellot for streaming events. With this new system spectators will be able to watch all events happening at the high school football field and in the main gym.

Weisshaar said the system will be an advantage as we face the possibility or restricting crowd sizes this season. Fans can watch from home and can also view other events from around the league and nation. 

The Pixellot system was chosen by our district after much consideration. The two cameras are completely automated. The school can set a start time and the broadcast begins automatically. 

Weissharr said the system originally cost $7,000 for equipment and installation, but through the company’s high school support program it was only going to cost $2,500 for installation. Then, because the entire Mid-East League chose the system, our installation and the cameras were free. 

Weisshaar said WHS was the first team in the league to have cameras installed, but the others should be up and running soon.

Viewers can access the live feed by signing up at nfhsnetwork.com for a monthly or yearly subscription. The cost is $69.99 per year or $10.99 a month. When choosing the yearly subscription a part of the proceeds go back to USD 329. With either subscription fans can watch any event from school districts across the US on the NFHS network.  

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