Mandatory face coverings a new abnormal for high school sports in Michigan
Sep 11, 2020
WARREN — Welcome to the new abnormal.
Detroit Catholic Central traveled across town from Novi to Warren last Thursday for a Catholic High School League soccer season opener against De La Salle.
The players for the junior varsity and varsity squads, the coaches, medical staff, game event staff, media members and spectators were wearing face coverings, per Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order 176 issued Sept. 3, followed six days later by a clarification in Executive Order 180.
Officials had the option of wearing a mask on the field of play, but did not.
Your Detroit Catholic scribe had his mask on, but they were sporadic for the couple hundred or so spectators in the stands or alongside the fence encircling De La Salle’s new $2 million athletic field, in use for the first time this fall since its dedication last spring, when high school spring sports were canceled because of COVID-19.
The temperature of every person entering the stadium was taken at the entrance. (Your scribe’s reading was 97.5).
Nicole Zarucki, De La Salle’s athletic trainer, said athletes are temperature-tested twice a day: when they come to school in the morning and at the start of practice. A log is maintained.
Asked what would happen if an athlete tested positive for the virus, and whether that would necessitate a quarantine for the individual or for the team, she said she’d seek the recommendation of the Macomb County Health Department.
Catholic Central players sat socially distanced on the bench or on the grass nearby. De La Salle’s squad sat shoulder to shoulder on its bench.
Shamrocks coach Gene Pulice squirted sanitizer on the hands of every player going on the field to play and when coming off. “Is it overkill?” Pulice asked. “Maybe, but I want to keep the kids playing and healthy.”
Coaches maintain that players who have been practicing since early August wearing face coverings have largely accepted the requirement, but opinions from parents varied.
“I’m completely against it,” the father of a Catholic Central player said. “It messes up their playing time. It’s a distraction.”
A mother of a De La Salle player said, “He hates it. He can’t catch his breath when he’s running or doing sprints.”
Another parent said, “He’ll get used to it. It’s for his safety.”
High school football season in Michigan kicks off Friday, Sept. 18. De La Salle’s newly named athletic director, Dennis Parks, revealed that a petition has been submitted to the Michigan High School Athletic Association for advice on how to handle the mandated masks for football players.
The issue centers around a mandatory mouth guard that all players must use. It is attached to the helmet and goes into the mouth, the same location for a mask.
As for the soccer game, the Shamrocks controlled the ebb and flow of the game from start to finish for a 3-0 victory. Senior Clay Moscovic scored in the opening four minutes and senior Jack Leuker found the back of the net midway in the first half and early in the second half.
Pulice said, “We have a great attitude and a great work ethic. It’s a recipe for success.”
“Give them credit,” said dejected Pilots coach Thaler Mukhtar. “The game meant more to them than to us. But we’ll play them again.”
Catholic Central (2-0) also defeated Troy Athens 2-0. De La Salle (2-2) blanked Fraser 7-0 and split a pair of games in Traverse City.
Contact Don Horkey at email@example.com.