Athletes adapt to face mask regulations

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By Brooke Kennedy, Staff Reporter With the T/E school board’s approval, Conestoga is set to join the Central League for athletic competition. While fall sports have hit the resume button on practices and games following newly approved safety guidelines, many student athletes in the community are concerned about the protocol of face coverings on and...

By Brooke Kennedy, Staff Reporter

With the T/E school board’s approval, Conestoga is set to join the Central League for athletic competition. While fall sports have hit the resume button on practices and games following newly approved safety guidelines, many student athletes in the community are concerned about the protocol of face coverings on and off the field. 

This year, athletes have many mask-wearing options depending on the sport they play and how their team handles masks during practices. Aside from the usual disposable and reusable masks, popular sports brands like Under Armour, Puma, Adidas and many more are making breathable masks designed for exercise and sports. Regular disposable mask packages cost between $5 to $10, while most sports masks cost between $15 to $30 each. Designed with antimicrobial treated fabrics, UV protection and a water-resistant outer layer, these masks have been gaining traction in professional leagues but have yet to garner much attention among student athletes.

Mask regulations vary by activity, with most outdoor sports having less mandatory mask wearing than indoor ones. However, all student athletes are required to socially distance when possible and wear face coverings when signing into practices and games. Coaches are welcoming both reusable masks, including the sports-specific ones, as well as disposables during gameplay even when they are not required.

Despite the accommodations sports teams have had to make, athletics director Kevin Pechin is looking forward to the new season of sports.

“I’m excited for the upcoming fall sports season. The kids have been doing the voluntary off-season practices since July 1st. That was a pretty good test to see if we can continue to the fall season with our protocols in place while waiting for the PIAA and District 1’s approval,” said Pechin. 

Junior soccer player Megan Daly is passionate about her team playing safely, but believes that wearing masks while on the field can make it hard to play at all.

“On the sidelines, I’d prefer if everyone wore masks to ensure we have a longer season but while we’re on the field it’s really difficult to play (while wearing masks),” Daly said.

Daly’s teammate, junior Heidi Amin, says she is excited that soccer has started but that the season feels difficult due to its delay and the adjustments players and coaches have had to make.  Although they are able to play, Amin believes that wearing masks can cause some setbacks on the field. 

“Sometimes I don’t feel safer playing with a mask on because I can barely breath in the mask while running, but if it slows down the spread (of the coronavirus), then I feel safe… I don’t want to get sick or see others sick, but I don’t think it makes sense for us to wear them because we see each other every single day,” Amin said.

For high-contact sports such as football, face protection is a necessity at all times. Clear attachments called Splash Shields are attached to football players’ faceguards when they play to block any fluids from coughs, sweat and sneezes. Because the face shields don’t fit snugly against the nose and mouth, many athletes also consider them to be a solution to the issue of masks tiring players out.

Sophomore football player Jon Quici has been attending daily practices with the rest of his team and is glad that everyone is taking precautions to stay safe and have a good fall season.

“I feel safe playing with my teammates because of our Splash Shields and our masks, but we know how much we want to have this season as a team. If it were to be cancelled, everyone would feel upset, so I trust my teammates are staying safe,” Quici said.

Though the coronavirus adjustments have been difficult for students, parents and coaches alike, Pechin believes that the opportunity for young athletes to play is important and possible once again, as long as everyone follows safety guidelines.

“If you want to play, you should wear the mask. I know it is not what we used to do but it is the new normal,” Pechin said, “and the protocols are always changing so fast and the mask industry is definitely booming right now. (The sports protocol) is going to be ever-changing, but whatever is safest for the kids, we’ll make sure we can provide it for them.”

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