Cross country coronavirus


Amongst a worldwide pandemic, athletes and coaches all across America have been affected by COVID-19. In Barrington particularly, a cross country runner for the Barrington Freshman/ Sophomore team had recently tested positive for COVID-19.

The original guidelines released from Governor Pritzker in July determined that cross country is a low-risk sport, as long as proper guidelines are exercised at practices and competitions.

“You do not need to wear a mask when you’re actively involved in your practices or workouts, but as soon as you’re done with your workout or practice you want to put a mask on, especially when you are going to be near any teammates or coaches,” Mike Obsuszt, the Barrington High School’s athletic director, said.

State Guidelines released by the state have been utilized by sports like cross country in order to continue to participate. Rules suggest that students are placed under strict expectations in order to stay healthy.

“There is a requirement for athletes to wear masks when they are not able to maintain proper social distancing,” Mr. Obsuszt said.

Masks have been a key component for state guidelines, as well as athletic guidelines. Although the precautions have not necessarily evolved much from the original guidelines released in July, there has been a lot of reinforcement of the rules for the Barrington High School runners, due to an athlete that tested positive on the team.

“Well, it’s been a lot more strict with the masks. Before, it used to be either have a mask on, or if you don’t want to have it on, you have to be far away from people. But now, you always have a mask and are always six feet apart.”

Since the required two week quarantine time has passed, the runner who had COVID-19 has returned to practice. With an athlete who was ill with a virus with such uncertainty has returned to practice, coaches have had to make sure that every runner can stay healthy. By enforcing the pandemic rules and guidelines, coaches are being sure to do their part in keeping their athletes safe.

“We have to be a little bit careful with gradually returning them back to running because of some studies there have been regarding myocardial, I believe is the word. So there are just some physical things that we have to be careful of,” Thomas Root, Barrington High School varsity coach said.

Myocardial ischemia, according to the Mayo Clinic, is when the heart muscle does not receive enough oxygen due to reduced blood flow to the heart. This could cause a severe heart attack, possibly killing those who may have it. So far, the athlete who had COVID-19 has reported to feel fine, but coaches must still have the responsibility to monitor the ever changing situation of the pandemic, and to keep everyone, ill or healthy safe.

“The responsibility rests a bit more on my shoulders to keep athletes safe, but in coaching or teaching, or anything in education, it is our job to prepare the athletes to conduct themselves in a way that aligns with our expectations,” Root said.

Athletes are supposed to do their part in being responsible and exceeding the expectations. Coaches have enforced these rules, and like any rule for a sport’s team, there are repercussions for not complying, which helps athletes to learn the importance of maintaining their distance.

“If we are caught not maintaining social distance we are put into a plank for one to two minutes until we spread out, and if we don’t have our masks on we have to put them on,” a runner for the team said.

Keeping athletes safe is vital for the continuation of cross country and other sports like it. It is necessary that when an emergency situation like a positive COVID-19 test comes back, athletes are prepared to take their guidelines seriously, that way more runners may not be tested positive. In order for the team to be prepared, there must be reinforcements of the rules to help them adjust to the situation.

“We’ve always had very strict precautions on maintaining distance and having our masks on, but once we found out there was a person with COVID, we made the precautions even stricter and made sure we were always maintaining social distance.”

Since this virus has been scary for many, cross country has been expressing the importance of being careful and utilizing their guidelines as a way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The cross country team has been successful in this, as only one teammate has been tested positive, and are back to practice with currently no infection to others. If infection to others were to have happened, or possibly happen, that could negatively affect cross country as a whole. As for now, nobody has been tested positive since then.

“They’re jumping back into practice with the group because we are still wearing masks and staying six feet apart, so as long as we see our athletes still abiding by those expectations, then we’re continuing to move forward.” Root said.