Families feel athletics squeeze
As school sports start their first week of competition, athletes and coaches aren’t the only ones adapting to guidelines aimed at stemming COVID-19.
Many school districts now limit fan attendance.
Each school has its own guidelines, which means that restrictions even can change from one week to the next.
Each Centre volleyball player can have four family members attend their matches. This works well for Jose Espinoza because his wife is assistant coach and three of his daughters play, but potential issues remain when his middle school daughter has a match.
“Unless my extended family or my wife’s extended family is to join us, right now we’re kind of fortunate,” he said. “Middle school can be more problematic because we’re limited to eight there because we have a coach and player.”
Additional members of the Espinoza family attend, though, because several of their daughters help the teams, which don’t count against their relatives.
Espinoza even has volunteered to give a spot to one of Centre’s former coaches so she could attend varsity volleyball.
“I knew for a fact that my parents weren’t going to be able to attend,” he said. “If somebody asks then you can be my parent for the day. We try to help out.”
Centre does not have attendance restrictions for football.
Hillsboro’s football game Friday at Nickerson limited Hillsboro tickets to 200.
With home games already under Peabody-Burns’ belt for football and volleyball, the district is one that hasn’t set attendance restrictions.
“We feel we have small numbers and we have a lot of space anyway,” superintendent Ron Traxson said.
Peabody-Burns has proven to be the exception compared to most districts, though.
Attendance at sports like cross-country is no sure thing either, despite being able to social distance more easily.
Mary Jane Grimmett drives to see her granddaughter, Heidi, at every possible race, but won’t be able to attend Thursday at Hesston because there is a limit of two spectators from each family.
“You have to park far enough away that you can’t see them run,” she said. “I’m trying to decide whether I need to drive over there and at least tell her good luck when she gets off the bus and be there when she’s done.”
Heidi is the only girl on Marion varsity cross-country, which boosts the need for family support, Grimmett said.
“I look up to her for that,” she said. “I feel like we have to give her all the support we can.”
Espinoza understands the worry family members have over being able to attend events at other schools.
Three of his children have graduated high school and have different schedules, so coordinating games always proves challenging.
“Maybe we’re going to have to draw straws or something to adhere to the guidelines at other schools,” Espinoza said. “We’ve talked about that and thought about what happens when we get to another school and they’re like, ‘sorry, only two.’ ”
Grimmett and her family often attend Marion football and volleyball, but now she feels that is unlikely.
“I’m probably not going to those because I don’t want to be in a crowd or anything,” she said.
If Espinoza’s children aren’t directly involved in a sport then he feels he can use other methods, like watching games online, to stay up-to-date.
That can be difficult, however, when it comes to older generations.
Espinoza’s parents often are unable to attend games, but he thinks they aren’t likely to stream games online, either.
“Their mindset always is that they’ll keep the girls in their prayers and hopefully everything goes well,” he said. “They’ll miss out.”