Mask procedure changing the way athletes perform

Grace Samra, Staff Writer

If you have ever worn a mask while trying to exercise, you also know the feeling of a soaked fabric, sticking to your face while you try to suck air in. And recently, most athletes at East Grand Rapids are required to wear face coverings while practicing or competing in their sport. With the rules always changing, it can be hard to know for sure who has to wear a mask and when.

 Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that all sports except swimming, cross country, and golf have to wear masks at all times. Swimming and cross country have to wear masks until they start swimming or running. Golf is only required to wear them while on the practice green.  Masks have changed the way teams operate. 

“We [the volleyball team] have to wear our masks all the time on the court and off,” Kendall Briton ‘23 said. “It makes it harder to play the way we used to, but we get used to it.”

 Masks can make it difficult to breathe while trying to play a game, but each team is having to learn to adjust to playing with them. 

“[Wearing] masks definitely impacted us at first when the new rule was released but we quickly adapted, ”Arend Vyn ‘21 said.  

All the teams have stated that while it is hard to play while wearing masks, they were able to adjust. 

“I feel like the team dynamic has changed a bit, because during the summer we had to practice in two different cohorts, and it was harder to get to know different people [outside your cohort],” Maya Reifinger ‘24 said. Hefner agreed and said, “it changed the team dynamic because we can only stay within our little pods that the coaches assigned at the beginning of the year.” 

“We can not touch or even get close to one another during games,” Briton said, which is another challenge. 

Klug does not believe that wearing masks has affected the team dynamic much, but Vyn thinks that having so many games canceled has had a positive effect on the team.

 “I strongly believe that the canceled games got the team to an emotional level, but we stayed strong and only became stronger and more ready for when we began games,” Vyn said.

Some teams have been hurt more than others by having to wear masks, but all the teams have pulled together and made the best out of a bad situation. 

Everyone has agreed that even though they are disappointed that they were unable to play some games and that they have to wear masks, they would much rather have an unusual season than no season at all. 

“I don’t mind the rules changing as long as we still get to play,” Briton. That statement was echoed throughout all of the interviews.“I can deal with the rules always changing as long as we have a season.” Klug stated.

Unlike what might be expected everyone was okay with wearing masks if it kept them and others safe. Klug responded with, “I think we should have to wear a mask all the time to keep each other safe and healthy. 

Vyn echoed the ideas of keeping others safe but, he also added that “mask-wearing in games is quite loosely enforced, so player’s masks sometimes fall down to their necks and stay there for a while.” 

Reifinger acknowledged that it is hard and not enjoyable to wear masks she also stated that “I feel we definitely should have to wear masks because if it is keeping our season going and keeping people healthy it is a great thing,” Reifinger said.