MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — While schools across Alabama are struggling to find a balance between in-person and virtual learning, many high school sports will soon be making a full return.
When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit last spring, schools systems statewide shut down athletics. But with a year of social distancing, mask wearing, and virus knowledge on hand, athletic officials and coaches say it’s time to return to the field.
“As far as limitations on the games themselves, the game will be very similar to what you’ve seen,” said Steve Savarese, executive director of the Alabama High School Athletic Association.
In fact, most high school sports resumed this past fall. Throughout the winter months, sports including basketball and wrestling completed full seasons. However, being indoor sports, there were strict safety protocols in place.
Spring sports are mostly outside, meaning a more normal experience for fans and players.
“It really let the air out of the bag for a lot of new athletes coming into high school. So, having it back is a real opportunity,” said Rob Weighall, a volunteer track and field coach at Wetumpka High School.
Weighall, who himself was an SEC track and field star at Auburn University, believes that in some ways, changes brought on by the pandemic can help student athletes.
“Maybe less teams on one day or segment the track meet throughout a day so that everybody gets an opportunity to compete and gets as much exposure to the sport as possible,” he said.
However, Weighall pointed out that it still doesn’t help those seniors from last year who lost out on memories and opportunities because of the pandemic.