The crack of the bat! The pop of a ball hitting a baseball or softball glove. The commotion of athletes back on the diamonds. Iowa High School summer sports are back! However, not without safety requirements for all student-athletes, coaches, and future spectators.
Baseball and softball players at all levels at Jefferson, Kennedy, and Washington High School use an app to check in every day before they can practice or play in a game.
Varsity Bound is a popular mobile app that has been used by the Mississippi Valley High School conference for game scores and team/player stats. The developer modified and enhanced the app for this current pandemic and season. The app asks players to say yes or no to a list of health symptoms and creates a place to input their temperature. Once the information is submitted, it provides coaches, athletic trainers, and athletic directors quick access to this information. They then can ask more follow up questions if needed, depending on the information submitted. If an athlete forgets or fails to update the app before practice or game, the school’s athletic trainer is standing by to officially process in the student-athletes.
"The responsiveness of the Varsity Bound team in developing this online screening tool has been remarkable. This allows us to have a quick, easy, and contactless way to collect this data and ensure athletes attending practices or games are healthy. The Varsity Bound team is already working on other extensions within the app to take on what we may face as school begins next fall as well," said Aaron Steckler, Kennedy High School Athletic director.
All players and coaches are to wear a mask upon entering the field or in close contact with each other. Players are to maintain their social distancing while placing their equipment bags. While players are participating in drills or activities, masks become optional. Coaches are also sanitizing shared equipment after use. While practicing, dugouts are also restricted, unless for an emergency or weather. For games, dugouts can be used and will expand into fan areas to maintain player distance.
"Guidelines seem to be constantly changing, but we are working through them in order to help provide a safe environment for our student-athletes, We are expecting a lot from our summer athletes and this year more than any other year they are sacrificing much in order to participate in something they enjoy doing," said Chris Deam, Jefferson High School Athletic director. "While it is a lot of rules, we are overcoming them and still providing summer sports."
Spectators will also be affected by new guidelines. "The Mississippi Valley Conference has limited spectators to three family members per athlete and coach at each game,” Deam said. "Spectators will check-in at the admission gate as they enter the facility to make sure they are on the approved list. They will then be expected to sit in certain areas with only their family members. This will be a change for most, but it is a mandate that must be followed."
the Return of Softball and Baseball