A Season in Jeopardy

Jack Barkkari

 

With an uncertain future and unpredictable circumstances, Utica sports have been forced to take on new safety protocols during the pandemic. Enduring season-ending quarantines, administrators are remaining vigilant in following new guidelines in hopes of keeping safe and avoiding future quarantines for the winter season.

Much concern arose over the Utica High School varsity football season when COVID-19 tests came back positive. Both high school and junior high school level sports have been affected 1 way or another, either with quarantine or a complete shutdown.

“Protocols must be followed that includes notification to the appropriate health individuals, to the school community, to the opposition and quarantining of an individual or team depending on the circumstances,” Utica Community Schools district athletic director Robin Dilday said. “Isolation or quarantine occurred for the designated period of time.”

Instructors had new challenges with their roles as the pandemic started.

“We have had to step up by continuously communicating, reminding and educating the coaches and athletes of the importance of following the established protocols or changing protocols as they presented themselves,” Dilday said. “Also, we need to be certain that the necessary PPE materials are available and being used properly.”

Players and coaches have had many concerns coming into the year. The stakes are high as athletes and athletics staffs. are having to follow many new guidelines to not jeopardize their seasons in the future.

“Whether or not coaches and players would follow through with the health protocols, such as temperature checks, hand washing, sanitizing, social distancing, and limiting contacts in your group, was most concerning to me,” Dilday said. “I was hoping that the programs would be able to finish their seasons without significantly being impacted by the COVID-19 virus.”

Despite the new challenges, players have still managed to stay in touch. They have also learned to practice on their own.

“During the early stages of the pandemic, we did a zoom meeting every week,” Utica senior football middle linebacker Dylan Lelito said. “We did workout challenges. That is how we all stayed in touch.”

Athletes were disappointed hearing about more positive cases of COVID-19.

“I was pretty upset and hurt about the positive tests, but I just continued to trust God,” Utica sophomore wide receiver Tommie Boyd said. “I know He has a plan for all of us.”

Players had to accept the end of the football season.

“I was devastated when the season ended,” Lelito said. “I feel like our team had a lot more to prove.”