BRIDGER VALLEY — As last year’s school year came to a close, Bridger Valley’s high school sports seasons ended with a whimper. Maybe not, as the spring athletes didn’t have a chance to begin. But the winter sports season did end with a whimper.
The coronavirus pandemic raised its ugly head and ruled the roost, ending last year’s winter sports season before the state basketball tournament, putting the athletes out to pasture and keeping the spring athletes in the pen without a chance to flex their muscles and show the Valley what they had to offer.
Turned out to be a life, not changing, but growing event for all the athletes, their coaches, fans and schools, leaving a “What If” for the season and definitely for the seniors. Also, equally sad for Bridger Valley athletes, the ones who were beginning to make a name for themselves in spring track and had captured championships and other awards have lost a year to fine-tune their skills. Several Valley runners are in this category.
Some of the Valley athletes are attending summer camps as in the past. But, they also must contend with social distancing, etc. as they work to improve their skills. A viable question, if they are also required to use masks at these camps, how are they getting adequate air in their lungs. Haven’t seen much on this requirement for the summer camps.
And several months later, the “What If” is still there as the pandemic continues to flex its muscles throughout the state and world. Coaches and athletes are left to ponder what will happen in the fall, even if schools are back in session. One projection is, “School will be held in session and masks will be used.” Others question if this will happen. As summer events continue to take it on the chin and are delegated to the events graveyard, it continues to add to the “What If” scenario.
For high school sports in Wyoming, the WHSAA has been working to create a ‘plan’ for fall sports. Football is slated to start on Aug. 28, as the opening kickoff for high school football for the 2020 season. Due to the ever-present pandemic, schools are still trying to figure out the best way to accommodate students and will the season really start at this time? It currently slated to start no later than Oct. 16.
WHSAA has created different contingency plans, according to commissioner Ron Laird recently, dependent on when it is safe to start the season. The plan includes changes for each week that is lost.
Laird said each fall sport has its own potential contingency plans and will be based on if the season is delayed or if there is time lost in the middle of the season.
“We’re trying to play,” Laird said. “That’s the key. We want kids to be able to participate, and we’re going to do everything we can to make that happen.”
Other fall sports will also be affected across the board due to the continuing pandemic and what actually occurs statewide, Laird said. For volleyball, cross country, golf and swimming, schedules may need to be shifted to avoid large invitational meets, where large numbers of people could mean a higher likelihood of contagion transmission.