Limits for in-school sports disappoint athletes

Varsity field hockey player and sophomore Cayley Sullivan stands on the first set of hash marks, waiting to receive a hit. She misses the first one. It zooms past her to the end of the field. Another teammate is standing there working on her own hits. Normally, she’d put her stick down and stop the loose ball, but because of social distancing protocols, she can’t. The ball skitters onto the sidelines and comes to rest next to the fence. Sullivan now puffs down the length of the field to retrieve it. These are the types of restrictions students playing in-school sports are dealing with: don’t share equipment, don’t mix with other people, and don’t get closer than 10 feet.

“I think inside of school has too many restrictions because we are not allowed to do anything with contact, which kind of takes the fun out of it,” Sullivan said.

What makes the new regulations more frustrating is that students playing on non-school sponsored travel teams don’t have nearly as many rules, making play more fun.

“There’s very limited things we can do,” varsity field hockey coach Christina Caroll said. “It’s not at all like what we’d normally be doing […] We are only allowed to do some stick work [and] some partner passing. Nothing where we’re mixing with other people.”

With so many restrictions, Carroll said she compares her current experience with school sports to her knowledge of non-school affiliated teams in terms of their constraints.

“My kids play outside of school sports and I don’t think they have too few restrictions, I’m glad they don’t have as many restrictions as this but I understand the reasons why the school has this many restrictions,” Carroll said. “My son’s team has been playing since July together outside and there have been no cases and have come through with no exposures. I understand why the county has so many restrictions, but I think it can be done safely with fewer,” Carroll said.

Varsity lacrosse player Rylee Nguyen said while she does not mind the precautions to her safety, she finds playing with her friends more fun.

“I prefer to go outside of school because I can interact with my friends more and get more playing and practice time in,” Nguyen said. “In school, we’re not allowed to really interact as much and we only do running. It’s just more enjoyable to be actually able to play the sport with everyone.”

Though Nguyen said she is thankful to have practices at all, she does think it is difficult to be a student athlete while watching club teams practice all around her.

“I wish school sports could be more open to practices, but I understand the risks about holding practices,” Nguyen said. “I don’t think it’s unfair, but it’s definitely frustrating [since] many athletes have to find different clubs or travel teams to play for that will allow games and practices.”