Sports Teams Accommodate to Virtual Students
The alarm goes off bright and early at 7:30 a.m. as junior Ally Fitzgerald, varsity basketball player, prepares for another day of virtual school. By 8:30 a.m., Fitzgerald is dressed and ready to log onto Zoom.
At 3:17 p.m., Fitzgerald begins stretching and rolling out, and then grabs a snack, a mask and her basketball bag as she heads out the door.
“I wanted to attend school virtually because I did not want to miss out on sports and activity opportunities due to contact tracing or quarantining,” Fitzgerald said. “Also, due to attending school online, basketball allows me to have that social interaction on a day-to-day basis that I would have gotten if I was in person for school.”
From 3:45 p.m. to 5:45 p.m., Fitzgerald practices alongside her teammates while abiding by the St. Louis County COVID-19 sports precautions such as social distancing and masks.
Throughout the season, Fitzgerald and her team have had to adapt to masks causing fatigue and a lack of direct oxygen, as well as social distancing causing communication issues.
“The best part about playing in these circumstances is that we are playing at all,” Fitzgerald said. “I wasn’t sure that we were going to have a season this year and having the privilege of playing basketball in this environment gives me something to look forward to.”
After practice, Fitzgerald returns home at 6 p.m. and works on her school work until 10:30 p.m.
To balance basketball and school Fitzgerald plans her week in advance and works through a to-do list each day.
Fitzgerald suggests other student-athletes who are opting for online school this year to pencil in time for warm ups and workouts, even if they don’t have practice that day.
Corroborating this point, senior Carlos Bell, varsity basketball player, manages his time by planning his day ahead of time, as he attends school virtually due to having high-risk family members.
“I try to balance school so that I don’t go insane trying to do everything at once,” Bell said. “I would rather be in person, as I sometimes find it hard to make it to practice on time.”
Bell said this year has been more hectic than usual, but basketball brings him a sense of normalcy and social interaction. However, he is disappointed to see most of his out-of-town games canceled and less of a turnout at games.
“I think the most obvious difference is the limited fans at games,” Bell said. “In a normal year, we would have a ton of people cheering us on and motivating us, but this year there aren’t as many.”
Eric Schweain, boys basketball coach, is currently coaching a team of 15 varsity basketball players, 7 of whom are online students and 8 of whom are in-person students.
To accommodate virtual students, the varsity team has been beginning practice at 4:15 p.m., rather than the usual 3:30 p.m., so online students can arrive in time. Schweain said it isn’t much of a difference as the team typically cuts back practice time around this time of the year anyways.
“When push comes to shove, we were able to keep kids active in this pandemic, which I believe leads to greater health mentally, physically and emotionally going forward,” Schweain said.
Similarly, the volleyball program also had a great deal of players who opted for virtual learning this year.
Andrew Hummert, boys volleyball coach, is serving his second year as head coach ashis first official season as last year’s season was cut short.
To help students who are continuing to attend school virtually, Hummert has pushed practice back to 3:45 p.m. as opposed to the typical 3:30 p.m. to ensure all students are able to make it in time.
“If a student happens to be late to practice due to them driving in from attending school virtually it has no effect on playing time and does not have any negative repercussions,” Hummert said. “If we need to make further adjustments for virtual students, we certainly will.”
On top of that, Hummert and his team is taking all necessary precautions to ensure no student gets sick. Players must keep masks on at all times as well as socially distance and sanitize all supplies.
“Ultimately, it is up to the student and their families to decide what mode of learning is best for their situation,” Hummert said. “Safety is by far the number one priority for me as student’s well being should always come before sports.”
Rutaiba Siddiqui, sophomore, is the Social Media Editor of Instagram and Online Publisher for the Marquette Messenger. This will be her first full year...