Fall athletes compete under COVID-19 regulations


Connor Plunkett

Garret Cordova Caddes (‘23), Etienne Griffon (‘23), Aidan Helgeson (‘23), Matt Maschler (‘24), and Nick Theobald (‘22) run together in a warm-up to prepare for practice.

After spiking the ball over the net, you hear your teammates cheer you on as you gather with the rest of your team to celebrate the point. However, you look in the empty stands, realizing that no one else is in the Les Perry Gym to show support and school spirit. This is the result of the new COVID-19 regulations placed on Webb’s sports teams. There are many universal regulations that players must follow, including getting tested and frequently sanitizing equipment. However, there are also unique regulations for each sport considering their distinct, respective environments.

VWS volleyball is excited to be back on the court after not playing for over a year. The VWS varsity volleyball team practiced all summer long, working hard to prepare for the fall season.

The team is dominating the court with a 9-3 record for their season so far. Although the VWS volleyball team is back, many aspects have changed. For example, protocols have prohibited spectators since volleyball is an indoor sport.

“Without spectators, it is a whole different atmosphere,” said Allison Paik (‘22), a member of the VWS varsity team. “The fans get me and the whole volleyball team pumped up before a game and they really show engagement in the stands. It is not the same and I hope we can get fans back soon.”

While the volleyball team did not have much of an opportunity to play over quarantine, the VWS tennis team was able to compete despite the pandemic.

After COVID-19 obliterated the VWS varsity and junior varsity tennis teams’ chances of having a normal season last year, the team returned to campus ready to play, stronger than ever. Last year, the team had minimal players, which unfortunately resulted in several losses. However, with a complete team and practice every single day, the team is having a better season with a 4-6 record overall.

Although the team is able to play, they are still affected by COVID-19 regulations. Because the sport is outside, spectators are allowed in certain areas, and they are not required to wear masks when they play. However, when players finish their match, they must put on their face covering; players must also get tested every single day for contact tracing. While it is different adhering to these regulations, the VWS tennis team is still performing their best and is hoping to dominate the league.

“I feel pretty safe overall because everyone is honest about their health conditions and how they are feeling,” said Camille Casper (‘24). “COVID hit the team really hard because it was hard to practice with fewer people, but we have gotten better over time, and it is feeling like normal now.”

On the other hand, the Webb football team began practicing in mid-July to prepare for the season ahead. The team hadn’t played an entire football season in over 525 days due to COVID-19 restrictions and concerns. Although the Gauls lost their first two games, they hope to change their momentum and win a championship.

Since the Webb football team plays outdoors, spectators are allowed to be in attendance.

“The atmosphere is awesome,” said Amahl Thomas, a coach on the team. “The players feel the different energy that the spectators bring and the spectators, I feel, have a new appreciation for how special being at an event is.”

With football being a high contact sport, athletes are tested every day and are required to wear a mask while on the sidelines, despite most of the athletes on the team being vaccinated.

Water polo is also a high contact sport that requires athletes to be tested daily.

The WSC water polo team started practicing August 25th after two years of dormancy due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The team practiced last year but did not play any games because of the lack of players and COVID concerns.

During this season, the WSC water polo team has been in full swing with the most spectators since the 2018-19 season. Since water polo is an aquatic sport, masks are not worn while playing. The WSC water polo team is fortunate enough to have spectators because of the outdoor arena in which they play.

“It’s nice seeing students cheering us on and the team reacts positively to having spectators,” Matthew Gooch (‘22) said. “When you have spectators cheering you on, it gives you that extra push to keep going.”

Cross Country 
On the other hand, the Webb cross country team is prepared. Having trained over summer using tools like Strava, Webb’s runners are ready for a new season. After a pandemic-long hiatus, the cross country team began training as a group the first week of the school year, giving the runners a big boost.

“Running as a team again really brought the sport back to life,” said Garret Cordova Caddes (‘23). “Running is one of the few team sports that you can do alone without having to make modifications, so everyone was still able to run, but it was a different type of running. Without the camaraderie of friendly competition and teammates, everyone was able to do workouts, but it was doing the motions, not having the spirit of XC.”

Cross country runners are tested daily, along with all other student-athletes at Webb, and are required to wear a mask when not running. Cross country is unique in the sense that there is very little physical contact between athletes, making it a relatively low-risk sport.

While golf does not practice or hold matches on campus, they are still affected by the new regulations.

“The only difference that COVID changed is that before we start golfing, there is a screening in which they ask questions verbally. But other than that, everything else has not changed,” said Angie Zhang (‘23).

While other sports have seen a decrease in players, golf has seen an increase in players.

“I have to get to practice earlier so that I could get a mat, otherwise I have to wait,” Angie said.

Even in the pandemic, Golf was very productive as their weekly zoom calls not only helped the players, but also helped Coach Owers. Coach Owers had the opportunity to regain the fundamentals of the sport and learn other new skills.

Coach Owers has played golf in the past, but he does not consider himself a golfer. Before doing the actual golf season, he was involved in golf clinic– the actual golf season is essentially the same as the clinic other than the fact that there are actual matches.

Although all fall sports have many different regulations, athletes and coaches are not using these as excuses, but rather as motivation to prove that they can strive even with all the trials. All athletes and spectators of Webb sports are very excited and if you have not already done so, attend one of the sports games to support the Webb Gauls!