The Boys are Back, the Girls Gear Up

CCHS football players make their way up to the soccer field.
Beginning day two of football camp, CCHS football players make their way up to the practice field.

Beginning day two of football camp, CCHS football players make their way up to the practice field.

High school sports resume with restrictions

The Wyoming High School Activities Association (WHSAA) announced June 19 that they will be deferring to individual school districts to comprise their own plans for resuming high school sports and activities.

In short, some sports may be permitted, but spectators will likely be severely limited under the best-case scenarios, per Thunder Basin High School (TBHS) Activities Director Mike DeLancey. Right now, locally, the Campbell County School District (CCSD) coaches and activities directors are scrambling to work within the confines while rolling out a fall season.

Campbell County High School (CCHS) Activities Director Zac Schmidt said that he and DeLancey have coordinated with principals at both schools as well as CCSD Superintendent Alex Ayers to create a detailed plan to resume sports.

Ultimately, DeLancey said, given the unknowns, anything they do come up with may be subject to change depending on the state’s public health orders.

“We’re still in the planning stages,” he said during an interview Thursday. “We’re making huge changes day by day.”

Currently, for example, high school athletes can attend open gym sessions for volleyball and basketball, utilize the school’s weight room and some are even conditioning at the football camp that began on Thursday.

Both the football and volleyball teams at CCHS and TBHS have announced the dates for tryouts, but Delancey reiterated that given the circumstances, nothing is set in stone. In fact, it’s not yet certain that there will even be sports and other events this year.

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“We really can’t say that any activities will surely happen this year,” he said.

Right now, they are weighing their options based on a lot of unknowns while adhering to WHSAA’s three-tiered, phased approach plan.

Under the first two phases, low-contact sports such as running or throwing, swimming, golfing, weightlifting and cross country would be resumed with some public health restrictions.

In phase one, audience members would not be permitted to attend events with more than 10 spectators either inside or out. Players, coaches and other contributors including assistant coaches and athletic trainers would have to pass daily screenings for COVID-19 symptoms, and would not be allowed to share equipment or even pass balls back-and-forth amongst themselves.

Phase two would run similarly to the first, but outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people would be permitted, with indoor events capped at 10 people. Interactive practice would be allowed but restricted to groups of five to 10 players.

Under phase three, moderate-risk sports like volleyball, basketball, baseball, softball, soccer, gymnastics, ice and field hockey, tennis, swimming relays, pole vault and seven vs. seven football would be permitted on campus with gatherings of 50 people allowed at both outdoor and indoor sporting events.

“We’re doing everything we can to get the kids back to their sports and activities,” Schmidt said. “But there are a lot of things that the instructive directors have implemented that we don’t want to dispute with our own plans.”

Right now, CCHS football coach Andrew Rose is doing his best to adapt the camps and open gym sessions to enforce public health guidelines like social distancing and screening for symptoms.

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Fooball players warm up with two laps around the practice field.
High school football players warm up with a short run before the camp begins.

“We’re following as many guidelines as we can while maintaining the integrity of the game,” he said from the sidelines as he watched the players practicing on the field during the second day of football camp Friday morning.

For their part, the athletes are also trying to get adjusted to the new guidelines, while honing their skills with the hope that the season will actually get underway.

CCHS senior Xander Beeson said he’s determined to get back on the field. Beeson explained during the football camp Friday that he’d already lost out on track last spring, so he doesn’t want to sit out for another season.

Social distancing restrictions, like the new no-contact rule have changed a lot things, he said. Football players, for example, are currently practicing without shoulder pads to ensure that players won’t engage in tackling.

Even though the teams cannot brush up on their tackling techniques, Beeson said he still has faith that the Camels will bring it this year.

“We have a lot of talented kids on the team who really want to be here,” he said. “After going to camps and seeing what everyone can do, I’m confident in these guys.”

Beeson said he was worry free in regard to the unknown season ahead of him since he’s seen so many coaches, administrators and players dedicated to restarting CCSD sports.

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“Everyone’s first priority has been getting us involved with sports again,” he said. “But letting our supporters show up to the games has been a close second.”

This will be Beeson’s fourth and final year on the team. Freshman, Izaak Snider, however, is getting his first dose of high school football COVID-19 style under the restricted circumstances.

“Hitting and tackling is my favorite part of this game,” Snider said as he glanced at his unpadded shoulder.

Even though he may not be able to practice his most prominent skill, he said, he still plans to wear that blue jersey with pride.

“It doesn’t really matter to me that I have to get my temperature taken every day or that I can’t tackle anyone,” he said, slipping on his cleats.

“I’m still playing.”

Izaak Snider rummages through his duffel bag to find the water bottle that he was required to bring himself.
Izaak Snider rummages through his duffel bag to find the water bottle that he’d been required to bring in order to eliminate the risk of sharing drinks or fountains. 

Soon-to-be CCHS senior Ramsey Wendt explained that she hasn’t shifted her focus from athletics, even in light of COVID-19.

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She said that after schools shut down this spring, her volleyball coach created a “Google Classroom” account just for the team.

“She’d post stuff like inspirational quotes and at-home work outs,” Wendt said. “I haven’t even thought of quitting as an option.”

Wendt, who has played volleyball since third grade went on to say that even without an audience, she would still hit the court.

“This is the last year that I can ever play as a camel and I figured it makes more sense to finish out strong than to quit.”