Masks required for fall sports

Volleyball+players+Megan+Powell+and+Avery+Patrick+practicing+social+distancing+during+their+serving+drills+while+wearing+masks+per+the+Wayne+County+Health+Departments+regulations.

Grace Zalewski

Volleyball players Megan Powell and Avery Patrick practicing social distancing during their serving drills while wearing masks per the Wayne County Health Department’s regulations.

Although masks were optional for athletes to wear during summer practices, they will now be mandatory for the players who participate in fall sports for their season whenever indoors.
This news was announced late August by the Wayne County Health Department in order to keep the COVID-19 numbers down in school settings.
“The Wayne County Public Health Department today issued a new order mandating local school districts, schools and daycare providers require students, faculty, staff and visitors to wear a face mask while in school and during school-sponsored indoor events. The order takes effect immediately,” The Wayne County Health Department said on their website.
Due to the COVID-19 cases rising as well as the new Delta variant spreading quickly, this was not a shock to many coaches and players participating in fall sports. Senior varsity volleyball player, Marissa Loveberry was not surprised that their season was starting to become like last year’s where there would be a mandatory mask rule due to not enough people getting vaccinated.
Varsity Volleyball Coach Al Edwards agrees with Loveberry and is preparing for more restrictions now that the school year has started.
“No it was not a shock,” Edwards said. “We were hoping it didn’t happen, but seeing some of the COVID numbers going up and the Delta variant coming back, and the way our governor has been trying to protect people, we thought this was a possibility,”
Since masks were optional throughout summer training, many players were unsure if wearing masks again was going to be an easy or difficult adjustment. Edwards has not seen a change in his players work ethic while practicing, but he has noticed it is harder for his players to recover after drills since it has been mandatory to wear masks.
For Loveberry, wearing a mask this year has been a bigger adjustment from last season due to not wearing one in the summer.
“I got used to it very quickly last year, but this year, since we already starting practicing without them [masks], and now I have to adjust back to practicing with them and it’s been such a long time since we’ve had to had them on, I have to try and adjust to it all over again,” Loveberry said.
All athletes from last year are now aware that because of COVID-19 their season could be taken away from them at any moment. When fall sport athletes heard the news from the Health Department saying masks would be mandatory, this brought back the fear of their season coming to an early end. Edwards has found a new value in coaching since he realized that the pandemic could take away the fall season at any time.
“We know that if somebody messes up something it could be gone quickly so hopefully everybody gets that appreciation for what’s there, and I think what you guys carried over is we all had to be more adaptable with what was being asked of us,” Edwards said.
Throughout last season, Edwards has been doing research and coming up with better ways to keep his players safe in order to keep the season going. He has experimented with different masks in order to help his players breathe more easily during game time.
“The carbon dioxide that we’re exhaling doesn’t have a way to escape because we’re trying to keep our exhale from getting to other people. That’s increasing heart rate 10 to 15% over what it would have been without the mask,” Edwards said.
Edwards believes that this mask mandate was a safe decision put in place because even people who are vaccinated can still be carriers of COVID-19. Loveberry still wishes that people who are vaccinated would be able to not wear masks since getting the vaccine is already a big choice to make. Both hope that more people will choose to get vaccinated in order for more restrictions to be lifted before the season ends.
Until further notice, the Health Department will continue to make masks mandatory for all indoor activities in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.