WELLSBORO — Wellsboro athletic director Ed Weaver took the time to clarify some of the challenges and details of their ‘Return to Play’ plan on Tuesday, June 23 at the Wellsboro football field.
“It’s been a challenge and it’s been a long process just trying to keep on top of the state guidelines,” Weaver said. “When we were formulating things changed again. So it’s constantly been a little bit of an update.”
With all of the changes laid out, one of the biggest challenges moving forward for players and coaching staff will be continuing to social distance in an environment such as sports that is dominated by players sharing close proximities, equipment and things of that nature.
“Really, it’s about being mindful,” Weaver said. “The social distancing, making sure we are not sharing water bottles, being as hygienic as much as we can. Those are some of the bigger issues at play.”
Another regular part of practice for student athletes and coaches will be temperature and wellness checks that will take place daily for both. To ensure that players don’t spread the virus throughout the team, any player with a temperature over 100.4 will be sent home. It was also noted that students should be doing these daily before school in order to attempt to mitigate the spread throughout the school.
“Everybody that’s a part of the team, and it’s daily,” said Weaver on the temperature checks. “And we’re asking them to kind of do it before they come to school so we can kind of mitigate that way.”
Another aspect of sports that will be impacted is something a bit more subtle, which is celebrating with teammates and even the exchange of simple high-fives, which is something that will need to be at least limited.
“Probably you know players won’t remember to follow that,” Weaver said. “But I think you just got to try and reduce that as much as possible.”
As things progressed into summer workouts for the Wellsboro athletic programs, there have been some major hurdles for the staff and coaches in order to be able to play and Weaver cited the logistical problems that arise as teams start to implement all of the guidelines being imposed upon them.
“Right now it’s been a lot of logistical challenges,” Weaver said. “Also making sure all of the coaches are aware of what’s going on. So like we approved our plan a week ago, so last Tuesday night, at our board meeting. Then basically Wednesday and Thursday were a lot of phone calls, emails and text messages, getting the coaches the information, because they have to get it for their kids and their parents.”
Another hurdle for athletic departments everywhere comes with the hygiene of not only students, but also the equipment and facilities to ensure a safe environment for athletes and coaches.
“It’s been a lot of proper cleaning,” Weaver said. “Disinfecting materials at all of the locations because we have multiple gyms and multiple fields and just trying to get that set up for our different coaches.”
Even with the scramble to disseminate the information as quickly as possible, Wellsboro has already begun to get student athletes back into the gyms and fields this week with many of their teams already participating in summer workouts.
“Our football and soccer teams are on the fields this week,” Weaver said. “Our basketball and volleyball teams have been in the gym already. That’s the big ones, also our cross country team, they were released because they don’t really have an official practice area. But they have been able to, you know, go on runs throughout town. So football, basketball, volleyball, and soccer are some that have been in our practice facilities.”
With nearly every sport starting back up in terms of summer workouts, another aspect that has some wondering what the season would look like is lack of spectators. It seems most of the athletes and coaches are just happy to play according to Weaver.
When the time comes and if spectators wouldn’t be allowed to watch, Weaver remained confident that they would find ways through technological channels to help give fans and families an opportunity to watch one way or another.