Student-athletes bare the brunt of winter season postponement

Delayed sports impact players and teams


Anna Benishek

Senior Davis Bye protects the puck from Osseo’s defenders Nov. 12. Governor Tim Walz new restrictions on high school sports have delayed them for four weeks.

Andrea Melear

As athletic director Andy Ewald faces the challenges of managing sports during a pandemic, he said the four-week delay will be hard on the athletes’ physical and emotional health. 

“It’s at a minimum of four weeks where athletes could have been having daily exercise at practice and just a sense of normalcy, which are important for teenagers,” Ewald said. “Life is being put on hold and I definitely worry about the social and emotional well-being (of athletes) on top of the physical part of things.”

According to junior Nordic captain Victoria Schmelzle, although the delay of winter sports was disappointing, it was the right action to take.

“I’m a little bit disappointed because we were all pretty excited that the season was going to start up and we were going to get out on the snow but I understand that this is what is best for everybody, as much as it’s frustrating, it’s probably the right decision,” Schmelzle said. “Sports are what help me excel in school as well as help with time management so having that extra time might prove frustrating and difficult but I’m just trying to train on my own right now until we can start.” 

Boys’ basketball coach David Breitenbucher said the repercussions the delay will have on athletes is dreadful, but under the circumstances, it is the reasonable choice. 

“It’s a huge impact mentally and physically for our athletes but I understand why we’re doing it. I just feel terrible for our students that for their mental and physical well being, they need to be doing sports right now,” Breitenbucher said. “You have to balance out the controlling of the spread of COVID and the mental and physical health of the athletes, and I’m not sure anybody has the answer on how to do it.”

According to junior Tommy Tight, the delay will be hard on him since it will be an abrupt break on his work before the season.

“It’s obviously tough, for hockey we’ve been having captain’s practices and the bridge season to help us stay in shape. So a four-week break without skating will definitely be tough to come back from and build up that strength again,” Tight said. “There’ll be an adjustment period for everybody since nobody can practice their winter sports during the shutdown really.”

Girls’ basketball coach Arsenio Richardson said, although the delay will be hard on everyone, they are all experiencing the same thing, so they are able to support one another.

“Psychologically is gonna be tough but we’re all in this together. Everybody’s going through the same thing, everybody’s in the same boat and nobody’s ahead of each other,” Richardson said. “But it’s gonna have an impact because (the athletes) are in distance learning and they’re not able to have that social or competitive aspect of athletics or extracurricular activities.”

During the fall, regulations were imposed on sports, and according to Ewald, he expects that something similar will be placed for winter sports once the season starts.

“When we do get back to having winter sports going, we’re going to have a lot of those same types of requirements or expectations as we did in the fall,” Ewald said. “We’ll have to wait and see how many interruptions we have because of cases here or cases with other schools we are scheduled to play. It’s a moving target right now.”

According to Schmelzle, the pause on sports could have a positive turnout for the Nordic team. 

“It’ll be good for us because by the time we can start up hopefully we’ll have enough snow to actually get out and ski and race. It’ll speed up our season and make it a little bit shorter but it’ll actually benefit us in terms of not having to do a lot of dry-land training,” Schmelzle said.

According to Tight, his hopes for the start of his delayed season are to go back to the way it used to be, or at least as close as it could be.

“Once the season does start hopefully it’s back to as normal as it can be, and we don’t have to have continuous COVID shutdowns or have a lot of people getting COVID from our hockey team and other teams or having to reschedule a bunch of games. Just having it be as normal and organized as possible,” Tight said.

Even though the circumstances are not ideal, Breitenbucher said he is trying to find the good in the bad.

“As a coach, a dad (and) a teacher, I am very bummed out that things are shut down, but I understand why it makes sense, it is just a rotten situation but it is necessary,” Breitenbucher said. “I’m trying to remain positive because I’m hoping that we get to play but it’s going to be difficult.”

According to Richardson, he wants to be able to at least have a season for the seniors and all the other players that put a lot of effort into the sport.

“Hopefully we’re able to at least finish the season and we can have a postseason. I have a ton of girls that put a ton of time in along with our staff,” Richardson said. “I’m hopeful that we’d be able to have a season for our seniors and be able to just finish.”