Pandemic Forces BHS Sports to Make Multiple Changes

After a delayed start, BHS sports are back on, but not without a few key modifications.


After Berkley students heard the news on Aug.14 that the MHSAA decided to postpone the 2020 fall football season to the spring 2021, many students were very disappointed. Thankfully, just weeks later, the next modification was an improvement: the MHSAA’s Council had authorized on Aug. 20, the start of competition in volleyball, soccer, and swim statewide. And on Sep. 3, Governor Whitmer decided to sign the order to reinstate the fall 2020 football season, and allow games to start soon after.

When asked about all these school sport alterations, Taylor Horn, Berkley’s new athletic director, said, “We believe that this is a great way to start to allow students to get back to a somewhat normal school year, and we will take every opportunity to allow that to happen. There are a lot of people that are working hard to make school sports happen this year, and it couldn’t happen without them.”

Along with school sports finally starting back up, the mask wearing regulations for schools sports have become quite numerous. The states new rules highly enforce mask-wearing during practice and games to ensure a safe environment for athletes. Faculty at Berkley see this as a necessity, especially after the Berkley boys soccer team had one Coronavirus scare back in August. After that, most coaches have taken precautions to the next level in order to prevent season cancellation, making sure all players maintain their distance during water breaks and keep masks up when players are unable to maintain a distance of six feet.

However, even with occasional breathing breaks without masks, many student-athletes find it very hard to breathe when playing games and practicing in gyms or outdoors.

“It sucks playing with a mask because I often get turf inside my mask which then goes into my mouth, and most of the time it’s pretty difficult to breathe,” freshman Seth Davidson on the boys’ varsity soccer team says.

Taking a look inside the gyms, Berkley’s volleyball players have just recently been allowed to play inside after Sept. 3.

Sophomore Jordan Budzinski on the girls’ varsity volleyball team says that “playing with a mask isn’t as bad as I thought. While I’m playing I can’t really tell I have it on, but during and after plays it gets a little hard to breathe and sometimes I need to step away, so I can get some air.”

The rules haven’t just changed for student athletes; they have changed for spectators as well. The main change for spectator capacity is that each player gets to invite two spectators of their choice to come watch their game. For football games, having limited fans allowed inside the fence is going to be one of the biggest changes for Berkley students and players to get used to. Even though some Berkley students have chosen to watch games from outside the fence, many students have said the atmosphere of the Berkley bear pack is not the same as it has been in previous years.

From the perspective of a senior playing his last year of football at Berkley, Liam Sarris says, “Playing games for my senior year without fans is very different because a part of the whole senior experience of football is having the big crowds and fans at all the games, but to be able to just play football and be with my brothers out there makes it ok to not have many fans.”

The atmosphere of many sports this year has been different. Swim, for example, had a very tight bond and a large supporting crown of other swimmers and parents.

“Like most things,” junior Brynne Scully on the swim team says, “a lot has changed since last year, swimming has been so different from my last two seasons, and I miss the way we were all so close, physically and emotionally, but it’s getting better and all we can do is be safe and try to enjoy the swim season.”

Other team sports like cross country have also been attempting new ways to bond as a team.

According to sophomore Haily Slutzkey, “It’s pretty much still the same sense of community, and we are working to do more team activities like having backyard movie nights a lot in teammates’ backyards, so it really hasn’t been too big of an adjustment.” Good news to hear on cross country’s part!

There is no question that the changes made during this school year have been a big struggle for many sports teams and players. From getting used to wearing masks while playing to learning new safe ways to bond with your team, everyone has to find a way to accept the adjustments being made.

With winter sports right around the corner, athletic director Taylor Horn says, “We are hopeful that winter sports will be able to have somewhat of a normal season, but we are following our state guidelines and laws very carefully. If something changes, good or bad, we must, and will, follow the guidelines and respect the decisions made.”