augusta free press news

Waynesboro High School navigating its way through another year of COVID

basketball covid-19
(© satyrenko – stock.adobe.com)

Waynesboro High School Athletics Director Jeremiah Major and his athletes are doing their best to persevere through COVID-19 to make sure their experiences in athletics this year are safe and still meaningful.

“Athletics during COVID is tough on everyone. However, making sure the community, coaches and players are safe is our top priority,” said Major, who notes that coaches now have to do things differently. “Coaches have to think about COVID all of the time, and here at Waynesboro they are doing a good job implementing various mitigation strategies in their routines.”

These mitigation strategies include social distancing on the sidelines or bench, minimizing the number of athletes in the locker room at the same time, and spending practice time on more individualized skill development.

Talajah Brooks, a senior volleyball player for Waynesboro says “playing your senior year during a pandemic is not easy, it is frustrating. Our team was shut down for weeks due to COVID, and now we have to transition back to playing. I am so glad we are able to play right now. This experience has definitely bought our team closer and taught us to trust one another.”

Junior football player Taylin Henderson agrees with Brooks in that playing sports during a pandemic has definitely brought him and his teammates closer.

“Hard times have definitely made the team close,” Henderson said. “Everyone is more focused too because you are only a second away from not playing, to playing; if someone else has to quarantine, you have to be on your A game and ready to go.”

As winter sports approach, Major envisions many of the same mitigation strategies for winter sports teams as well.

“Our coaches are encouraged to have their athletes do small group work and individual drills. Wrestling has always had a stringent cleaning protocol, so that will continue more frequently and basketballs will be disinfected on a timely basis.”

Senior Evan Sites, a year-round athlete at Waynesboro, has concerns about moving from his outdoor fall sport of football to his indoor winter sport of basketball.

“Last year during basketball season, a majority of students were doing virtual instruction, so we did not have to worry about close contacts as much,” Sites said. “I am excited about the upcoming season but hope our schedule does not get interrupted due to COVID.”

Sites’ football teammate, Lazarus Powell, also has apprehensions about the upcoming winter sport season. Powell is not only a senior football star but wrestles and plays baseball for the Giants.

According to Powell, “the regular cleaning of mats is more time-consuming, and wrestling is a body-on-body sport, so you have to be extra careful.”

Through it all, Brooks, Henderson, Sites and Powell all agree, being an athlete during COVID isn’t the best situation, but their coaches are definitely stepping up.

“Our coaches are giving us a lot more support with our school work and making sure everyone has rides to practice,” Powell said.

“Our coaches are doing the best they can, we just take it day by day,” Brooks said.

You can visit www.shenandoahdistrictva.org, for a full schedule of Waynesboro High School athletic events.

One of the ways the community can support our athletes is by applying for coaching opportunities. Currently, Waynesboro High School is searching for a swim team head coach.

If interested, visit waynesboro.tedk12.com/hire/index.aspx to apply.