Playing Through: Fall Athletes Compete Despite Obstacles

Delays, masks, quarantines and stress impact fall sports


Ana Esqueda

Sporting masks fastened to the face masks of their helmets, junior Ben Nichols and junior Charlie Mahoney run to senior Andrew Bradley to
help with blocking in the game against Blue Valley High on Oct. 2. at the District Activities Complex on Antioch. Photo by Ally Townsend (Ally Townsend)

At the beginning of August it looked like the fall sports season was lost. COVID-19 spread through the BV West community just as it had throughout the rest of the country. After a great deal of input from the community, the Blue Valley Board of Education voted to “let them play.”

While athletes, coaches and parents celebrated the opportunity to participate, practice and competition protocols were impacted. Football endured a quarantine, cheer lost five months of practice and team bonding, golf travel was restricted, tennis lost State chances and cross country learned to start and end races wearing masks.

“(Cheerleader) tryouts did not occur until August and we have our State Competition in November,” cheer coach Katie Pearson said. “It has really forced us to condense the time lines of practices, etc.”

Katie Forsen

Cheer waited months for tryouts, team bonding and practice, other sports were able to do conditioning in June and July in anticipation of starting the fall sports season on time.

Girls golf coach, Aaron Anderson, reported “we had to postpone practice for a couple weeks.”

Olivia Lasley

Coaches were tasked with keeping their athletes from worrying about all of the COVID distractions.

“We don’t focus on the can’t but on the can. We stay focused on the things we can control and try not to think about what we can’t control,” cross country coach Mallory Huseman said. “We take every day as an opportunity.”

Baleigh Thompson

Athletes like soccer’s senior Colin Welsh also was grateful the BOE considered the unique aspects of each sport when determining safety measures.

“I’m thankful we don’t have to play in a mask,” Welsh said. “It would make it harder to play, breathe, see the ball and communicate.”