The New Winter Sports Guidelines

How Shawnee Heights is working with KSHSAA in order to give all winter athletes a safe and healthy season.

Brook Newberry

After barely even allowing a season for winter athletes, KSHSAA continues to work with Kansas schools to find the safest ways for athletes to compete. 

“The risk of an increase in community spread and the burden that it plays on health care is probably as significant if not more significant and urgent at this point in time,” KSHSAA’s Executive Director Bill Faflick said. “Bottom line is, unnecessary group gatherings should be avoided inside at this time.”

Weeks of board meetings later, the final decision has been the allowance of winter sports. KSHSAA’s original policy when it came to basketball was to overall amend the season. The start date was supposed to be pushed back to January, causing the number of games for players to be reduced. However, after approval from the Board of Directors, Heights has decided to start on schedule in hopes of allowing students to have as much playing time as possible. With this, the necessity for additional safety measures to be put into place was heightened.

“In order for us to be able to host contests, we were going to be able to allow spectators; but, spectators were going to be limited to parents or guardians, and parents and guardians only,” Athletic Director Cody Whitney said. “There are no substitutes for that.”

Many Shawnee Heights community members will be feeling the loss of this season; so, to combat this, basketball games will now be streamed digitally. 

“We invested in the NFHS network, which allows us to stream our games with a little bit of a better quality than what we streamed in the fall for football,” Whitney said. 

A wrestler sanitizing equipment after completing his workout.

Along with basketball, wrestling meets will be streamed as well. In wrestling, you are constantly in close contact with your opponent, and there isn’t really a way around that. To mitigate this contact, wrestlers are required to apply a skin cream before entering the mat and they must wipe themselves down with skin wipes immediately after their match. 

“Of course we still have the traditional cleaning of facilities and we still have the traditional cohorts of numbers and the smaller groupings; but, (wrestling) was really the only sport that had the specific cleaning measures that were told to us,” Whitney said. 

As well as wrestling, swimming and bowling have both seen a required reduction in group size. Swim meets have become stretched over multiple days with only a few schools in attendance at once as opposed to the typical 9-12. Though bowling is a very individual sport, the problem is the size of meets as well. In response to this, numbers on both the girl’s and boy’s teams have been reduced to 6-8 fewer players.

“At the end of the day, we still have our kids in the water, and our kids are still on the mat, and our kids are still on the court or in the lanes, which is ultimately what we want,” Whitney said. 

As not only a school but an entire community, it is valuable to come together during this time and work towards one common goal. The athletic season of students would not be possible without the support of each other.    

“Our coaches have worked incredibly hard. They have done everything that they can to prepare not only their athletes but their assistants and their programs to be as successful and safe as they can be right now,” Whitney said. “I could not be more proud of who we have coaching our teams because they have truly, truly worked so hard to find out what it is that they can do to make sure that you are safe all of the time.”