A little background info for those that are new to my blog: I am a Head Cross Country Coach and Assistant Track & Field Coach at a local high school. I have been coaching for over seven years. This post is merely to provide some information and observations during this unprecedented time. I will not open the floor for debates on the efficacy or rights of mask-wearing or the realness of COVID, because….well, there’s nothing to debate. This is my blog and I TRUST in science and the experts and think that a minor discomfort is worth the chance I could be saving a LIFE – anyone’s life. In the words of Colorado’s Governor, “wear a damn mask.”
Coaching in the time of COVID is, well, interesting. With regulations and requirements changing weekly, sometimes daily, it’s has been a challenge. Despite the stress it may cause myself and my fellow coaches, I do have to say that I truly believe it is extremely beneficial for the kids, as well as us coaches, to get out, run and see other people – as long as we can do so safely. Luckily, we can!
Kids (gosh, I would have hated being called a “kid” in high school) need to play and see their friends – all ages; I could see it on their faces when we played our first game of ultimate frisbee (albeit with some new social distancing rules). The laughter and joy that game was that first game was magical.
I know this time is tough right now, but I’m super grateful that the school district and local high sports association has allowed the kids to resume practices. By far, cross country is the easiest sport to implement the health protocols put into place by the local officials. It’s truly a blessing to be coaching this sport (in comparison to football, for example, where there are many more things to have to worry about, sanitize, and monitor).
With all the end of the world, zombie apocalypse, dystopian books I read and movies I watch, I never thought I would live through a time like this. It’s surreal seeing everyone in masks all over the place. Currently, when we all arrive, the coaches first, take a medical screening. Our temperature is taken and we’re asked if we have had any health concerns recently. We are required to wear masks when gathering and screening the kids. If we are not physically practicing with the kids, we, as the coaches, are required to wear a mask the whole time.
The kids have to show up wearing a mask and keep them on until we are actually running. It is weird looking, to put it simply.
As soon as we are running and practicing, we can remove our masks. Ultimate frisbee is allowed, with no contact, and keeping distance while “guarding” your opponent. We also have to regularly sanitize the frisbee itself. Some kiddos, about three out of the 24 that come to summer running practices, choose to wear their masks the whole time. Power to them! It’s not fun to run with a mask, doable, but definitely uncomfortable!
Most of the kids are great at following all the rules. They do need some reminders to keep their distance from each other because kids just naturally gravitate toward one another. We do have to keep on them because there are people from the district “spying” and taking pictures.
We still don’t know what the season will look like. We don’t know what competitions/meets will look like. They could say that all the participants need to wear masks in the races at the meets. They could limit the number of kids that can compete, even in the JV races. Who knows!
Truth be told, we could be practicing all summer, and “they” (the local high school sports association) could just say no. If one fall sport is deemed not safe, they would probably cancel all sports. Or, more likely, they push some sports to the winter season and some to the spring season. I hope that’s not the case. It’s actually kind of nerve-racking to think about.
But we are positive! And we push on!
Think happy thoughts. Think happy thoughts.
But seriously. You do have to prepare like all will be well; it keeps the kids happy and in a positive mindset.
Since this year is a bit different, we have been looking at different ways to fundraise for our team. In the past, we’ve had a live 5k race that raised money for ALL the sports programs of the school. We’ve done financial presentations and Chipotle nights. Sold merchandise and candles. But this year fundraising needed to be easy and less stressful.
So I suggested a VIRTUAL 5k! Introducing the Racin’ Rams Virtual 5k Fundraiser!
Yes, I am the “race director,” and here’s my shameless plug. If you’re looking for some virtual motivation and want to help out a local Colorado Cross Country team, sign up for our race and let us know Coach Vestal sent you! All funds raised go towards meet fees, transportation, food, safety and health equipment, uniforms and room and board plus transportation for our regional and state meets.
You’ll receive a Racin’ Rams t-shirt (gender-specific), sticker, and digital bib. Plus the cost (only $30) includes all fees and the mailing cost! You run anywhere you want before the end of August and you can report your time to see how you rank with all our athletes!
Walk, run, skip, hike…join the Racin’ Rams Virtual 5k!
Sign up HERE!