Winter sports trying to prepare and follow safety guidelines


Cate Gordon

With Covid-19 cases on the rise in Allegheny county, winter sports for Shaler Area High School have had to make provisions and changes in order to compete in a positive and safe way this winter season. Along with these new rules and regulations many challenges and confusion have come into play.

As of right now winter sports will be starting up as their season approaches. The transfer from hybrid to all virtual for the school district will not have an affect on the start of winter sports.

According to, “The school becoming virtual really does not affect athletics, since our teams are generally much smaller than a school population it is easier to maintain protocols and tracing under the rules of the PIAA,” Mr. Clint Rauscher, Shaler Area’s athletic director, said.

In order to compete safely, a lot of new rules have been placed on the teams. They have to follow guidelines they have never seen before and needed to change the way they play and practice.

“In order to keep the swimmers separated as much as possible, we have them split up with some in the deep end and some in the shallow end. Also, all swimmers have to have their masks on until they get into the water. We have plastic bags for them to put their masks in to keep at the end of their lanes,” Ms. Abigale May, varsity swim coach, said.

There has been no normalcy. The one thing I’ve learned is that we need to keep pushing forward because you never know what tomorrow will bring.

— Rob Niederberger

Similarly, the basketball team needed to make changes to their daily routine in order to follow the demands by the PIAA.

“When the guys show up, we have to take their temperature outside of the school before they even get in. If they are higher than 100, they get sent home. We need to wear masks the entire time we practice, even when running. I don’t think that is a favorite thing for the players,” boys basketball coach Mr. Rob Niederberger said.

One of the hardest challenges for the winter sports teams is not being able to practice the entire team all at one time. Many groups have limits on how many people are allowed in the gym at one time.

“The biggest challenge we faced as a team due to COVID is the fact that we haven’t practiced as a whole team in weeks. We would have put in more things offensively and defensively, but I hesitated because I want everyone to be there to learn them together,” Niederberger said.

There has been a lot of confusion on how it is possible to play and compete in times like these. The PIAA is changing the standards constantly and it is hard to plan ahead for games and meets. A lot is still undecided.

“The most confusing part has been how a meet can be run. Practices haven’t been too bad, but at the meet we haven’t gotten clear guidance from the PIAA on whether or not the lane assignments for each team need to be done in a different format,” May said.

This pre-season for sports here at Shaler Area has been something no one has ever experienced before. Teams are trying their best to make their season as fun and normal as it has been in years past.

“There has been no normalcy. The one thing I’ve learned is that we need to keep pushing forward because you never know what tomorrow will bring,” Niederberger said.