Athletes overcome mask restrictions

Players are masking up to play hard for the spring sports season


Nicole Chan

WORK HARD, PLAY HARD — McLean High School’s softball team is committed to wearing masks when necessary during games and practices. “They’ve helped [a lot] during practices to keep [players] safe while they’re on the field,” junior and softball player Nicole Chan said.

Mackenzie Chen, Online Opinions Editor

Vaccinated Americans are finally being permitted to take off their masks, more than a year after the pandemic started. But for spring athletes at McLean High School, wearing them remains a requirement.

“[The requirement for spring athletes is that] before and after games and practice when [the players] are just hanging out, getting ready to take the field, or when the coach is just talking to them, they do need to wear masks,” director of student activities Gregory Miller said. “That is FCPS’ current policy with masks for athletes.”

Luckily, for more physically strenuous activities, such as practices or actual games, the mask requirement is not the same for the convenience of players.

“When [students] are practicing, playing their games, and being physically active, they do not have to wear a mask,” Miller added.

In addition to the mandatory mask requirements, many other changes have been implemented to make this year’s spring season very different from previous years, the most noticeable being the reduced number of close social interactions.

“[The athletes still] need to socially distance and keep the six-feet [distance] from each other at all times,” Miller said. “When they’re not playing their games, [coaches and administrators are] pushing them to be six feet apart before and after games and on the bus.”

While the new safety measures pose challenges to students, many players have adjusted well to the rules and enjoyed games and practices feeling safe and secure.

“I like the masks because [they] help to keep everyone safe,” junior softball player Nicole Chan said. “The masks don’t interfere with [the players] when [they’re] playing because in the field, [they’re] allowed to take them off.”

Players this year have also been committed to complying with safety regulations in order to keep other players and coaches safe from the coronavirus.

“Everyone [has been] pretty good about staying safe in general,” Chan said. “Everyone is keeping their masks in the dugout and when we’re not on the field.”

The same rules and commitment to safety apply to every spring athlete, including members of the crew team. 

“[For crew, we all] wear a mask during water practices at the Thompson Boat Center unless we are physically exerting ourselves,” junior and crew team member Phoebe Li said. “On land, we all strive to follow the rules and wear a mask.”

Over the course of the year, the mask requirements have changed considerably to accommodate the fluctuations in coronavirus cases. 

“In the winter, [players] had to wear masks at all times,” Miller said. “Basketball players had to wear them, wrestlers had to wear them during games, as did many other teams, such as football [and more].”

Despite the heavy social distancing rules and mask requirements, many players did not let these obstacles hinder them from achieving successes this year.

“Thais Rolly, who is one of our cross country runners, won state championships,” Miller said. “Overall, the [greatest achievement] is that our athletes have gotten to participate [in games] and play sports.”

The athletics department sees this year as a success, given how students and teams have overcome hurdles and still managed to enjoy themselves.

“We’ve gotten through our seasons,” Miller said. “We’ve had a few hiccups along the way, and we’ve had a few teams that had to be put on pause, but overall, we’ve gotten through it, and we’ve provided a positive experience for our athletes, which, to me, is the greatest success.”