How athletes are affected by playing with masks


The boys varsity basketball team huddles up during a timeout in their 72-53 win against Mount Vernon.

School sports are extremely important to student athletes as they are provided with opportunities to learn new things and play the sport they love. Also, other students have the chance to support their classmates and school by attending the games being played. However, a different experience for athletes arises this school year as athletes are required to wear masks during practices, team meetings, and in some cases, games. The precautionary measures are put in place by VHSL so athletes can be the safest they possibly can while participating in activities and competitions with their team.

“It is [playing basketball with a mask] mostly fine, it is a little hard to breath and can get tiring,” said Junior Zakariase Nebeyu, a varsity basketball player. The Atoms are currently 7-2 (at time of publishing), nearing the end of the regular season. The Annandale basketball program has been practicing social distancing and has followed the strict Covid protocol by taking turns using the gym to limit excess interaction. All equipment is thoroughly sanitized before games and between usage by different teams.

“I feel safe, but at the same time you never know with the pandemic,” said Nebeyu.

Winter track athletes have also had to adapt to these precautionary measures. The track season was temporarily halted due to a suspected Covid-19 case, but quickly resumed and meets began to take place once again. During the beginning of the practice season, many athletes and parents voiced their opinions on wearing a mask during such vigorous running practices as the athletes could be put at health risks. 

“It’s [wearing a mask] more difficult and kind of annoying but if it stops the spread of Covid, I am more than happy to wear them,” said sophomore shotput thrower Catherine Connell.

In order to keep all track athletes as safe as possible, there are only three teams per event and the meets are held at an outdoor track.

However, just because there are several precautionary measures put in place does not mean that everyone thinks running is completely safe. 

“I feel a bit safer wearing masks but I’m still worried about the spread of Covid,” Connell said.

Another winter sport that has made drastic changes is wrestling. Wrestlers are not currently required to wear a mask when they are wrestling, but still have the option to compete with a mask if they feel the need to.

“On match days you have to wear a mask the whole time unless you are wrestling. We also sanitize every 10 minutes when we are in contact with another wrestler,” said sophomore Marcelo Pozo. 

Finally, the swimming program has undergone many alterations. Swimmers are not able to swim in masks, so extra safety measures are put in place to keep them safe. They must stay socially distanced from each other when swimming, as there are gaps in between lanes so athletes can be as separated as possible. Team members must also wear a mask at all times, except for when they are in the pool. “I feel pretty safe, despite the circumstances of Covid because of how well maintained things are this year. Everything is done in an orderly fashion so we all follow the safety guidelines,” said sophomore Thomas Nugen.