When senior and hockey captain Erin Brousseau and her teammates heard about the new mask mandates surrounding the return of high school sports on Jan. 4, they were concerned about how it would affect their playing ability.
“People are a little bit shocked,” Brousseau said. “It seems like a big adjustment for a lot of people right now, and it’s going to be kind of hard to navigate, especially in games when you start breathing really hard.”
The Minnesota Department of Health released new COVID-19 related sports guidelines Dec. 28, which include requiring athletes to wear facial coverings at all times, including practice and games. The only expectations set out to this rule are for swimmers, wrestlers and gymnasts in scenarios in which the mask could act as a choking hazard or vision obstruction.
According to the guidelines, practices can start Jan. 4 and games can start on Jan. 14. Other rules set out by the guidelines include capping pod sizes at 25 people, maintaining social distancing between players when they are not playing, as well barring spectators with the exception of caretakers that may be needed due to the participants age or disability.
Similarly to Brousseau, junior and JV basketball player Cameron Delorme said his teammates expressed concerns surrounding the new regulations.
“I was talking to some of them today about it, and they don’t like it because we played basketball a few weeks ago with masks, and it was really hard for them to breathe,” Delorme said. “They’re kind of stressing about how they’re going to be able to play to their full potential.”
Brousseau said while wearing a mask may be uncomfortable, she’d be willing to accept it in exchange for playing hockey.
“It’s a little bit uncomfortable, but nonetheless I think that it’s a small sacrifice for something larger which is the ability to be able to play,” Brousseau said. “The mask mandate is the trade-off for like the ability to be able to play your indoor sport.”
According to Delorme, he sees the masks as a necessary safety measure, regardless of how inconvenient they might be.
“It’s the safe way to go. Even though it may be uncomfortable with running up and down the court, it’s gonna get hard to breathe, but I’d rather not get COVID(-19),” Delorme said.
Brousseau said as a captain she sees it as her job to keep her team safe, as well as trying to maintain a positive outlook in light of the nuisances of the season.
“I’m just going to try to set a good example, and be a leader… not complaining that like, ‘oh, this is uncomfortable,’” Brousseau said. “(I’m going to) come with the knowledge that those things aren’t going to be how they were in years past, but make the best of it and try to look on the bright side of most things.”