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Area coaches react to mask ruling for high school winter sportd

NEW ULM — Local high school coaches reacted somewhat positively to the news that masks must be worn by all participants and coaches for practices that are scheduled to begin Jan. 4 and for most all contests that can start Jan. 14.

Minnesota Valley Lutheran head boys’ basketball coach Craig Morgan said that he’s not excited for the change but that he and his team will adapt.

“I’m not excited about it but as long as we get to play, we will adapt.”

And wearing masks in games is something that players are going to have to adjust to.

“We did it in Phy Ed in the last couple of weeks and the kids did not seem to mind,” Morgan said. “They adapted to it — they were not running as hard as we are going to do during the season in a game. But Wisconsin has done it and watching games there, they are handling it OK.”

Morgan said issues that players are going to have to adjust to besides breathing is wearing it and them sweating.

“They are going to have to decide what kind of masks they are going to wear — I do not think that the disposable ones are going to work for them.”

And players must wear the masks when they are sitting on the bench or in the locker rooms. And the coaches must also wear masks.

“That one is going to be tough,” Morgan said. “I have read studies and it all comes down to people just getting used to wearing them. There are people who run in the cold outside that wear them. It is not what we want, but it is for their safety. At least we are playing games now.”

New Ulm Cathedral head boys’ basketball coach Alan Woitas said that he anticipated the masks.

“We were pretty well anticipating that [masks] were the direction that [the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota State High School League] was going to go so it is not a huge surprise,” he said.

“The masks are something that the kids are going to have to get used to as far as cardio and breathing with them on. But we are excited that we are going to be able to play games in mid-January and there is a season that is going to happen.”

Woitas said that unlike football, players must wear masks at all times in practice, games and locker rooms.

“And does a player really need to wear more than one mask during a game — do they change a mask at halftime — and what to masks look like after playing a game of basketball.”

One sport that masks will not have a more direct affect on is wrestling.

While wrestlers must wear masks when sitting on the bench they do not need to wear a mask during their match due to a choking concern.

But mask requirements will have a big effect in hockey.

Right now, hockey players are required to wear helmets with face shield visors plus a mouthguard. Now add in a mask to cover the mouthguard and it is a concern.

“Right now we are wearing visors and mouth guards and now we have to wear masks.” New Ulm High School head boys’ hockey coach Ryan Neumann said. “But you have kids that wear glasses that are going to fog up — even contact (lenses) could be impacted by that. They are breathing heavy and then they are sweating inside their helmet. And they are constantly touching them. And there is the communication issue. We preach to the players to be talking to each other on the ice.”

And as far as crowds go, it appears that right now no fans will be allowed at any games or practices.

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