Summit High winter sports teams experience COVID-related absences but say it’s better than the alternative

Summit High School Girls Head Coach Kayle Walker Burns waits for the start of the game against Battle Mountain on Feb. 25, 2021 at Summit High School in Breckenridge. The public health order means masks are back for indoor sports.
Liz Copan/For the Daily News Summit

As COVID-19 numbers continue to rise across the county due to the omicron variant, one area that is beginning to be affected is Summit High School Sports.

Over the past week, several Summit County winter sports coaches have said lineups or start lists have had to be adjusted due to athletes contracting COVID-19 or other illnesses. .

“I feel like one of my biggest challenges right now is dealing with COVID,” said Summit girls’ swimming and diving team head coach Jenny Wischmeyer. “That limits us a bit in terms of what we can do.”

Summit men’s hockey team head coach JR Engelbert expressed a similar sentiment ahead of last Saturday’s game against the Mullen Mustangs.

“Each team faces COVID issues, so we have a bit of a different formation (against Mullen),” Engelbert said. “It looks like right now, with the environment, every game is going to be a bit up in the air depending on each team’s individual COVID situations.”

According to Jordan Buller, the head coach of the men’s basketball team, he also had to adjust his team’s starting lineup last week when his starting point guard was out with the flu.

Travis Avery, who is Summit High School’s athletic director and oversees COVID-19 protocols for all of Summit’s athletic teams, thinks Summit was lucky, for the most part, as the omicron virus continued to spread. .

“I think overall we’ve been pretty lucky in the winter season and with indoor sports, including volleyball in the fall,” Avery said. “We haven’t had too many impacts considering the volume of COVID in the community.”

Beyond the fact that some people miss certain games, no Summit sports team had to close for an extended period or miss competitions, unlike other high schools in the state.

Avery also said he speaks regularly with Summit County Public Health Department officials and was told the county was working its way through the peak of the wave of omicron variants.

Due to the higher risk of transmission since returning from vacation, all Summit sports teams have worn masks for practices and home games.

It is then up to local ordinances at away games to determine if team members are required to wear masks at those locations.

“(Summit County Public Health) is hoping it will peak relatively soon and be down, and they can look at getting back to where we were before the holiday season in terms of restrictions,” Avery said.

The current practice of kicking players out of a game or practice is preferred to postponing games or canceling entire seasons, which was the norm not too long ago.

While acknowledging individual choice, Avery said vaccination is a major step in preserving high school sports seasons.

“So we’re really able to protect seasons as a whole and not have to cancel games,” Avery said. “I think people did that for the most part, and I think that led us to protect the team and the seasons as a whole.”

Ruth J. Leeds