Football season begins despite COVID-19

Davis+Mick+and+Dehann+Nelson+celebrate+after+making+a+tackle.

Kati Blaylock

Davis Mick and Dehann Nelson celebrate after making a tackle.

Elly Green, Reporter

In March of the 2019-2020 school year, Governor Laura Kelly required all K-12 schools in Kansas to close for the remainder of the year, causing all spring sports throughout the school to be cancelled. With the chance for a new beginning and new school year, the board of education carefully considered the ups and downs of allowing fall sports. With guidance from the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), and rules plus regulations set by KSHSAA (Kansas State High School Activities Association) it has been decided that fall sports will continue with special regulations until further notice.

With the opportunity to play sports this season, student athletes jumped at the chance to start practices again. The football team started practicing on June 1st, which is earlier than they have started practice in previous years, says football captain and senior Aiden Kendall. Both football coaches and captains have been taking extra precautions to keep the team safe from the spread of COVID-19. This includes taking the time to clean equipment and the weight room, wearing masks during practice, and keeping socially distanced.

“We are just reminding people to social distance and to keep a mask on. Our team has been pretty good about staying safe so it makes it easier for us to focus on winning,” Kendall said. 

The football team’s first game was hosted at home on Friday, Sept. 4th. To keep guests safe, the stadium was only partially filled and football players, cheerleaders, and dance team members were only allowed four family members to come watch the game. 

“They are limiting the attendance to 25 percent capacity and the student section is only allowed 86 students. All attendees must wear a mask and social distance, if they don’t do those precautions they will be asked to leave,” Senior Braiden Botterweck said.

As far as safety between the two football teams who played on Friday, all players wore a face shield in their helmets to prevent breathing in the air from other players, since football is not a sport where players can stay socially distanced at all times. Coaches wore masks and when waiting on the sidelines players tried their best to stay six feet apart. 

“We are only sending out two captains for the coin toss,” Kendall said. “We decide this by alternating every game so Braiden Botterweck and Ben Schmidt [were the two captains that went out Friday.]”

Junior Jonah Remsberg is eager to play football this year since last season he had a shoulder injury that kept him from playing his sophomore year. He explains that when the team was not able to practice, he put in individual work by working out at home and conditioning outside.

“It’s just really exciting to be on a team that is invested as much as we are because the past years have not been as good in terms of people really wanting to change our culture,” Remsberg said.

Botterweck said that despite the pandemic he and his teammates expect nothing but perfection this season. 

“My biggest goal as a captain this year is to not let the team down and to change the culture of Newton football into a winning culture,” Botterweck said. “The team’s biggest goal this year is to have a winning season and win at least two playoff games. We want to show the other teams that we did not mess around this year.” 

Remsberg, among many other football and fall sports student athletes, stood outside of the board of education meeting on Aug. 25th to peacefully persuade the board members to vote in favor of keeping sports. Although the pandemic shows no signs of stopping soon, many student athletes believe that sports should continue.

“It is very important to keep sports because some people do sports for the sole purpose of getting a scholarship for college, and that’s a lot of money on the line. I feel that sports can give students an escape from bad situations they are in, there have been many athletes in that situation for football. It also gives them the opportunity to have role models for underclassmen, and show them a good route to take throughout highschool,” Remsberg said.

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