After nearly two years without a consistent schedule, high school sports are officially back on track.
Catoctin High School athletes have had to navigate abridged seasons and restrictions, cutting down opportunities for student athletes to compete since the spring season of 2020. Some students have missed out on half of their high school athletic seasons due to the ongoing pandemic. And, with cold and flu season in full swing, the future remains uncertain.
For now, though, students finally have a consistent schedule to compete with other athletes around the region.
Regular seasons for popular winter sports like basketball, wrestling, and swimming have had fans itching to get back to normal. Even the playoff format once again follows the standard format from non-COVID years.
“As of right now, everything is normal with regards to playoffs, Athletic Director Keith Bruck said. “It’s the same structure we’ve had pre-COVID with the region format and championship schedule, so hopefully that continues.”
Though students and fans have reason to be excited for winter sports, there are still regulations and precautions to be followed for everyone in attendance.
“This year for the fans, coaches, and everyone inside the gymnasium, they have to wear a mask,” Bruck said. “While the players are actively engaged in the sport, they don’t have to wear a mask.”
This is a big development from last season, where players for indoor sports like basketball were required to play masked throughout the duration of the game.
“When a kid is on the court for basketball, they don’t have to wear a mask, but when they come off the court, they’re expected to put a mask on,” Bruck said.
No matter how small the progress is to working toward normalcy, the goal is to keep taking the proper precautions seriously to allow students to continue pursuing athletics. Even if some of the rules are uncomfortable at times, it beats missing out on another season of high school sports.
The local support has been great through the first few weeks of winter sports, with fans making their voices heard from the stands. “Attendance has been about the same as it was in previous years,” Bruck said. “Folks are anxious to get back and see their favorite teams.”
With fans and players only getting to experience a glimpse of a normal season in 2020, this season’s athletes are excited for a chance to do it right. “We had a really short winter season last year, so I think folks want to get back to watching high school sports,” Bruck said.
Fans will have plenty of opportunities to catch Catoctin sports over the winter break, with wrestling and basketball tournaments highlighting the end of December. Both tournaments will allow students to showcase the hard work they have been putting in all year to prepare for their time to shine.
With the turning of the page into the new year, Track and Field and Swimming meets become a big deal for hundreds of athletes in the region. These events typically bring multiple schools together, so the continuation of group competitions is a hugely positive sign for the state of high school sports.
A particularly close-contact sport like wrestling having the green light to carry on is also encouraging. Prevention of COVID transmission between wrestlers seems almost impossible, but, fortunately, programs have had good luck this season avoiding any delays and shutdowns due to outbreaks.
“We haven’t had to pause with any of our teams so far,” Bruck said. “We’ve had individual cases here and there, but we haven’t had to stop our teams from practicing or playing.”
It’s no secret that everyone wants the COVID nightmare behind us, and the athletes finally have something concrete to focus on as they push through their regular seasons toward playoffs. The opportunity to compete for a state title is something these athletes won’t take for granted.
You can catch Catoctin sports from the jump in 2022, with all games, meets, and matches listed on the Catoctin High School athletic calendar at www.fcps.org.