Trojan News: Worthington seniors share opinions on fall sports changes due to COVID
Maddie Schaefer, Nedoh Gyi, Godmar Gach and Eric Knuckles reflect on their fall sports seasons.
WORTHINGTON ― Ever since COVID-19 struck Minnesota in March, Worthington High School seniors athletes have been greatly impacted by not having the senior season they always wanted.
The boys soccer team had a great run, finishing the season second in the section. With COVID making some big changes, they still managed to make the best of their year.
“Personally, I think our season (was) great; COVID ain’t stopping us,” said Eric Knuckles, senior varsity player on the Worthington boys soccer team.
Each sport has had different rules and regulations made, whether it's the amount of games they had, less practice time or transportation. When Knuckles was specifically asked how soccer had been impacted, he said, “As a senior it’s kind of hard, because I’m used to more games, and since there’s fewer games I feel like I have less time with my teammates.”
One of the main challenges sports have faced was not being able to have as many spectators in the crowd. For soccer, the players got to choose three people who they wanted to come watch, and the rest of the people either had to buy a first-come-first-served ticket or just couldn't go.
Knuckles described the impact a lack of crowd members has on him.
“I think there are pros and cons. Some pros are that it’s less distracting, and we don’t have people yelling at us all the time, but then again on the other hand, we love our community and we’re grateful for them to be supporting us,” he said.
There have been a lot of changes with cross country. The Worthington Trojan cross country team cut down their season. With only having nine races and being limited to only three teams per meet, the season really looked different.
“To be honest, I wasn’t that mad that we had fewer meets, but there were some courses that I really enjoyed running at, but we didn’t get the chance to run those courses, and there were new courses that I really wasn’t prepared for and that conflicted with my running,” varsity runner Nedoh Gyi explained.
There were some races in Minnesota that didn’t allow spectators. All of the races that the Trojans went to allowed spectators, but they had to wear a mask. The runners also had to wear a mask unless they were racing. Even on the cross country buses, masks were required.
Usually there is a middle school bus and a high school bus, but this year the buses were separated even further ― by gender, not just age. Lots of the runners were disappointed, especially seniors who could not have their last team bondings or the traditional “bike and run” that is always done before the start of the season. Lots of seniors don’t know what will happen next with their upcoming sports seasons.
“Not really sure how basketball’s going to go because that’s a lot of contact, but for track I’m really excited to run on the new track, hopefully having somewhat of a normal season,” varsity runner Maddie Schaefer said.
The seniors for the Worthington cross country team are very thankful that they got somewhat of a season and hope that the rest of their senior year will keep getting better.
With a brand new turf field, the Worthington Trojan football team were hoping but didn’t know if there was a possibility to have a season on the new, long-awaited complex. Before the season had even started, the football team was told that they wouldn’t have a fall season but could look forward to a full season in the spring. With a lot of time left, the team still kept practicing because they knew anything could change at any time.
“We were supposed to play in the spring but it ended up changing again, and I was pretty happy about that and it’s good to be playing now,” football captain Godmar Gach shared.
The team has already played three games this season and have three more to go in the regular season. Even though a fall season was able to happen, there have been a lot of changes to follow COVID-safe regulations and still have a productive season.
Gach says a lot is different this season.
“The season has changed a lot, everything from practices to lifting to even traveling,” he said. “We’ve had to make these changes, though, so we can at least have a season.”
In addition to seasons cut short and limitations on spectators, none of the sports were able to go to the state tournament for those who had qualified. A few fall sports started late because originally they were going to be in the spring.
“Volleyball and football were pushed back till the spring and now back to fall and going till November, which will also push winter sports back as well,” said athletic director Josh Dale.
Dale has also seen these changes as frustrating, just like the players of each sport. Even though not everyone was happy with these changes, he’s glad the athletes were able to get the opportunity to be able to have their season.