October 26, 2020

Masks pose a challenge to athletes in practices and workouts

“Right now, I feel if it weren’t for the mask I would be almost in perfect basketball condition,” Webster freshman and women’s basketball player Jordyn Grimes said.

With COVID-19 still posing a problem for college sports across the country, practices are looking different for many of the Webster athletes. Practices are being held with safety precautions to try and keep the athletes as safe as possible.

Webster University’s Athletic Director Scott Kilgallon is working with the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) and coaches to ensure practices are safe.

“We’re currently being very cautious,” Kilgallon said. “The most important thing is the safety of the athletes.” 

The one safety regulation that seems to be on the mind of athletes all over campus is masks. Masks are currently mandatory on the Webster University campus, including during practice.

Jordyn Grimes is a freshman women’s basketball player for Webster. Grimes said that all the team has done so far is conditioning workouts. Grimes noted that the addition of masks has made her conditioning a little harder than usual. 

“We’ll distance running around outside and after the first lap I will already feel myself getting winded which is pretty out of the ordinary for me,” Grimes said.  “I know my teammates feel the same way.”

Senior softball player Alyssa McWilliams, along with her teammates, waits for the “go” signal from her coach to sprint from one cone to the next. “We had a great running session. I can’t wait for our team to start practicing on the field,” McWilliams said. Photo by Breelyn Craig.

The women’s basketball team is limited in how they can practice even when they are not conditioning. They are only allowed to have 30 minute shoot-arounds and can only have six players on the court at the same time. 

“Obviously, our hope is to get away from [masks],” Kilgallon said. “I believe [the safety precautions] are well worth any inconvenience. Our primary goal in all of this is still the health and safety of the students”. 

Sports all over campus are running into the problem of how masks will affect these practices. Masks may have some hidden benefits, however, if sports end up being able to start back up in the spring. 

“Right now, I feel if it weren’t for the mask I would be almost in perfect basketball condition,” Grimes said. “But, since I have to wear the mask, I know that the masks are pushing me to condition harder because who knows if we’ll have to wear them during the actual season.” 

Grimes also said she believes Webster’s team is conditioning even harder than their competition. She thinks that whether or not they play with masks during the season, training with them may give the team an edge.

Kilgallon and the rest of the Athletic Department have been working hard to allow teams to practice during COVID-19. 

“For the last five months COVID has consumed almost all my time,” Kilgallon said. “I would say 95% of our plans go out the window but it’s definitely worth it.” 

With teams all over campus dealing with these COVID-19 guidelines and the restrictions that come with them, it is unclear how sports will look come spring.

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