Local High School and Collegiate Sports Adapt in the Wake of COVID-19

Professional, collegiate, grade school, and recreational sports have all been affected worldwide by the pandemic, with leagues canceling practices and games and taking safety precautions when sports are played.

football field
An Empty Musselman Stadium at the Height of Football Season [CJ Jamarillo]

In Adams County, the situation has been the same, with many practices and many games canceled.  Despite strong recommendations from governor Wolf that they not be, sports are being played at the middle and high school levels in each of the six school districts.  But at Gettysburg College extramural fall play in the Centennial Conference has been canceled and after an outbreak of COVID on campus, many athletes have returned home.

“Coaches are wearing masks or face shields, the athletes are only doing drills in which they are six feet apart; this includes no defensive drills,” said Bermudian Springs High School Field Hockey Coach Kristy Zehr. “The girls are just so excited to get out of the house, see their friends, and do something active.” 

“Despite the pandemic, team morale has been good, especially given the circumstances,” said Zehr. “It has certainly been different than any other season, but things have been going well.”

At Gettysburg College, the on-campus athletes, mainly freshman and a select few upperclassmen have been having team workouts. While wearing masks and being socially distant, things have been moving relatively smoothly.

As for the off-campus athletes, they have been given workout plans from each of their respective teams and it is left in their hands to follow the programs. This approach is similar to what the athletes had been doing during the summer break.

“It’s certainly tough,” said Gettysburg College Football Defensive Line and Strength and Conditioning Coach Mike Hoyt. “Groups have been reduced to a maximum of ten, players and coaches alike. Masks are to be worn at all times, and temperature checks are required before each workout. Symptom screening is done every day by athletes.”

“When we are on Zoom calls it’s all business, so upperclassmen and first-years do not get much of a chance to interact and build bonds like they usually do in preseason camp,” said Hoyt. “Chemistry does suffer slightly, but we have team bonding activities to assist with that.” 

Asked about challenges going forward as schedules become more normalized, coach Zehr said “COVID has been the biggest obstacle, but we are just happy to have the opportunity to be playing.” 

“Getting back on the same page and building chemistry will be difficult. We see on different levels of sports the pandemic has affected teams differently, but making adjustments on the fly has been the agenda,” said Hoyt.

CJ is an intern at the Connection and a Senior at Gettysburg College.

CJ played football and lacrosse in high school and and plays on the Bullets football team.

He has worked as a scorer and social media representative for the Gettysburg College Athletics Communications Department,

CJ is an Active Brother of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity where he served as rush chair and house manager.

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