St. Xavier athletes work to stay healthy, question what fall season will look like

By Angenette Levy, WKRC

Thursday, July 9th 2020

SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WKRC) - Soccer players and other athletes at St. Xavier High School have been practicing for the upcoming fall sports season and taking precautions to stay healthy during the pandemic.

St. X canceled football practice for two weeks after some players tested positive for coronavirus. Football practice is expected to resume next week. To date, the soccer players are healthy.

Briggs O'Toole is a goalie on the Bombers soccer team and he's preparing for his senior season. He feels his team is taking the necessary precautions. His coach has broken practice into pods and players keep their distance as best as possible on the field. They're also wearing masks when walking to and from practice.

"It always worries me, but I feel like I'm taking the proper precautions, wearing masks, keeping my distance," O'Toole said.

Players' temperatures are taken each day before practice and they are required to fill out an online form asking questions about how they're feeling. Coaching now includes reminders about social distancing and other appropriate behaviors.

"It's a new normal, so to speak, for the kids. They're used to being close; they're used to being together and connected," said St. X athletic trainer Ken Rushford. "Constant reminders to the kids, 'Hey, back up, back up.' Every day we're saying that. Keep your space from your friends right now."

Right now, school officials across the state still have questions about what fall sports will look like when school starts, and there are questions about what would happen to a team's record and whether games would be forfeited if players contract the virus. Players would have to be isolated if they tested positive.

Earlier this week, the Ohio Department of Health issued an order permitting teams to play for a trial period through July 15. The policy would be reviewed after that date. Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said the teams would have to agree to conditions, such as testing for the virus, staying socially distant while not on the field and coaches and trainers would be advised to wear masks when dealing with players.

"There's no playbook. There's no guidebook for what you do. We're certainly waiting for directions from the state of Ohio and the OHSAA about that," said Athletic Director Brian Reinhart.

Reinhart said the school is following advice from county health departments and the CDC to keep everyone safe. Earlier in the week, the Ohio High School Athletic Association issued a statement saying it was working on guidelines for the fall sports season that would be released once finalized.

Meanwhile, Briggs O'Toole said he and his teammates are hopeful for a fall season that can be as normal as possible.

"Right now, we're trying to do our best to get ready for the season and stay prepared," O'Toole said.

This week, some football players at Anderson High School were told to quarantine because they may have come into contact with someone who contracted coronavirus.

Premier’s athletic trainers adjust to new safety measures

by: Kiona Dyches – WDTN 2 News

Posted: Jun 29, 2020 / 06:30 PM EDT / Updated: Jun 29, 2020 / 06:57 PM EDT

HUBER HEIGHTS, Ohio (WDTN) – As athletic programs at high schools across the Miami Valley return to the field, everyone is getting acclimated to the new guidelines.

This week, local high schools continued into Phase II of practices and are allowed to have contact. The role of athletic trainers has evolved to treating injuries while also keeping their eyes open for COVID-19 symptoms.

“When the athletes come on campus they’re asked to come in a mask, when they get here they get their temperatures taken and they do the symptom checks,” said Dominique Starr, athletic trainer at Premier Health.

Starr is in her 8th year as an athletic trainer with Premier. Since sports programs were halted in March, she’s gone from packed training rooms to treating injuries on a more strict schedule.

“Sometimes we can have up to eight or a higher amount of athletes in here at a time whether we’re preparing them for practice or they’re doing rehab, getting treatment. Now we’re stopping them at the door and saying ‘hey we’re only allowing two people in at a time,'” she said.

On the field at Wayne High School, coaches are also making changes.

“These things are the biggest things we have to implement for our kids. We make sure they do it while they’re checking in, when we take their temperature, when they’re not doing activities, we make sure they have them on and stay six feet away,” said Andre Cokes, assistant Head football Coach at Wayne High School.

The student-athletes are embracing the socially distant practices and say they just hope to be able to play again this fall.

“The kids are enjoying it. With that time off I think it made them a little more hungry,” Cokes said.

“Having that time off just made us more humble and hungry to come out here and work harder and follow whatever they say just to keep our hopes up for the season,” said Cam Fancher, a quarterback at Wayne High School.

Nearly 40 local schools have athletic trainers through Premier Health.