Fall Sports Must Go On!

Despite everything that’s going on with COVID-19, WJCC decided that Fall sports will continue as long as certain safety precautions are taken.


Valerie McDonald

Lafayette’s Varsity Volleyball team poses in their masks after their 3-0 victory against Jamestown. This was the first time since 2009 that LHS beat JHS.

February 15, 2021, marked a very important day for fall sport athletes in Williamsburg James City County. The outbreak of the COVID-19 virus last spring resulted in several events that weren’t promised this upcoming year, including sports. Last summer, WJCC created a new and improved schedule for the different sports seasons. It was planned for each season to be shorter, contain fewer games, and involve playing against a fewer number of schools. Winter sports were planned for December 13-February 20, Fall sports for February 15-May 1, and Spring sports from April 12- June 26. At the beginning of the school year, many athletes remained hopeful.

Before their volleyball practice, athletes line up to get their temperature checked. If an athlete’s temperature exceeds 100 degrees Fahrenheit, they will be asked to leave. (Alivia Palmer)

The introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine changed the game. The number of cases around the globe began to drop and the idea of playing sports became a reality. With February coming closer and closer, athlete’s spirits began to rise. February 15 marked the week when tryouts began. Football players, golfers, volleyball players, cheerleaders, field hockey players, and cross-country runners across the county were excited to be back with their teammates. Along with a shorter season, there are several other safety precautions athletes and teams have to take to play and remain safe.

When completing their registration, each athlete had to complete a COVID-19 waiver and a COVID-19 Acknowledgement Form. At the beginning of each practice, athletes get their temperature checked and answer questions regarding COVID-19 symptoms. If a player’s temperature is over 100.0 F they can’t practice and are asked to leave. Along with temperature checks, each player must wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth regardless if they play an inside or outdoor sport. When asked about the safety precautions during football practice, Demarco Lawrence, a senior at Lafayette High School, responded by saying, “We have to wear masks when we’re not wearing our helmets and remain 6 feet apart regardless if we have helmets on or not at practice. We have assigned cones t

Before each practice or game, each athlete is asked these questions by their coach. If they respond yes at any time, their coach must send them back home. (WJCC Website)

o stand on during practice when we’re not actively participating and during games. We also can’t share water bottles during games.” Anna Yaugo, a senior at Jamestown High School, had a similar response when asked about the safety precautions at her volleyball practice. “We have to get our temperature checked and keep our masks on the whole practice. We social distance while

putting on our shoes and during water breaks. Half-way through practice we also have to stop and sanitize the balls and net.” When asked about their opinion on these safety procedures both athletes had similar responses. Lawrence says, “I personally don’t mind wearing a mask when

After their volleyball practice, LHS Assistant Coach, Barb Calloway, is spraying the volleyballs and net with cleaner to help protect her athletes and prevent COVID-19. (Alivia Palmer)

we’re inside or when we’re conditioning without our helmets on. However, playing a whole football game with a mask and helmet is not very comfortable at all. It restricts breathing and promotes excessive heavy breathing which prevents athletes from competing at their full capacity.”

These safety precautions not only affect the team’s practices but the games as well. Players still must wear a mask and get their temperature checked before each match. At the end of February, Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam stated that indoor games were allowed a max of 25 spectators while outdoor games could have a max of 250. Each spectator that comes to watch a game regardless of the sport must be on a guest list and have a form of identification. Along with these things, they must be wearing a mask and remain socially distanced. For the spectators that can’t be in the gym, there is a broadcasting system that live streams each game. Subscription for the NFHS Network costs $10.99 a month or $69.99 a year. The system allows the people at home to feel like they’re inside the gym or at the field with the athletes.

LHS Senior, John O’Neil, is staying 6 feet apart from other players and wearing a mask while warming up for his golf match. (John O’Neil) 

John O’Neil, a senior at Lafayette High School, is very involved with his school and its sports teams. He signed up for a membership to support his teammates. “Live streaming has been a nice bonus this year. However, the camera quality and work aren’t great and the scoreboard can be unreliable.” When asked about the price and if he thought spectators should have to pay to watch he responded, “I do think that spectators should have to pay to watch. The BRD had to spend a good amount of money buying cameras and getting streaming licenses. Any savvy consumer will quickly realize you only need to watch 2-3 events each month to come out ahead compared to the usual cost of attending in person.”

The last game scheduled for the fall season is the beginning of April. However, despite what’s going on, VHSL has decided to continue Regionals and States for their fall sports. Even though their season was condensed, athletes are excited to be back with their team and have the opportunity to represent their school.