COVID-19 versus Noblesville Millers: The need to keep players healthy has caused practices and games to look a little different this year


Photo by Photo by M. Sebbas

Kiana Siefert steals the ball from the opposing team. As she sprints down field, she takes the ball to score.

Mary Sebbas and Nina Scroggin

The need to keep players healthy has caused practices and games to look a little different this year

For many athletes at Noblesville High School, sports are an outlet to relieve stress and anxiety. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus in February earlier this year, finding ways to keep athletes healthy and stress free has been a challenge for the athletic department. 

As fall sports begin, schools are rushing to find safety procedures that will prove to be the most effective for preventing the spread of the coronavirus. Leah Wooldridge, the Noblesville High School athletic director, plays a significant role in deciding the school’s new protocols to keep Miller athletes and coaches safe.

“Every day before practice we make all coaches and players [fill out] the COVID screening questions through our player management system, RankOne, and they get a temperature check upon arrival at practice,” Wooldridge said. 

The Noblesville athletic department wants staff and students to understand the importance of reacting accordingly to your body in order to maintain good health.  

“We make sure that coaches and athletes understand that if they don’t feel well, they should stay home and contact either our athletic trainers or their physician,” Wooldridge said. 

With winter being a season when illnesses spike, winter athletes must follow different guidelines in order to keep themselves healthy. These new regulations leave athletes with growing concerns about whether or not their season will occur. 

“I don’t want [the school to have] to take away our season and then not be able to show our skills,” NHS junior basketball player Kadin Hamilton said. “Especially for the seniors and their last season of high school.”

Hamilton isn’t the only student this year concerned for his season. In the spring of last year, senior Macalister Smith lost his junior track season to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Since October 2019, Smith has been training for his chance to be recruited for a college track team, but due to his loss of last year’s season, the process has become more difficult than originally planned.

“By the time my spring season starts I will have just a few months because I need to be signed somewhere,” Smith said. “This leaves me a very small window to produce fast times that usually come at the end of a season.”

Though the path to college recruitment has been tougher than expected, Smith remains driven, as he believes his current abilities and performance will help him reach his goals. 

“My dream has always been to run track in college and with the way I’m running at the moment I’m on track to go division 1. This would be a huge feat that I strive to achieve,” Smith said. 

With little time left for him to be signed, Smith feels pressured to not only perform well during his season, but also to have a season at all. While wearing a mask and repeatedly washing hands to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Smith believes there are more actions we can take to guarantee that athletes such as himself can have a healthy and successful season.

“I would like to see more social distancing to ensure that we have a season. I would like to avoid having multiple teams use the same practice facilities at the same time,” Smith said.  

As Smith continues to prepare for his track season in the spring, junior Kiana Siefert has already begun her soccer season for this fall.

“It’s definitely hard to not be able to get close to one another because we are such a close knit team… we miss the high fives and hugs after scoring, but at least we still get to play,” Siefert said.

Although safety is the top priority, Siefert claims it is difficult for the team to connect with the new social distancing rules.

“During practices, we maintain six feet of social distancing and make sure that we aren’t spreading any germs to one another,” Siefert said. “During games, the people on the sidelines are wearing masks at all times and maintaining six feet apart.”

According to Siefert, the coronavirus pandemic won’t stop the Miller girls’ positive attitude and work ethic. The teams’ state win this past year is their motivation throughout the rest of their season. 

“We are motivated to win again this year,” Siefert said. “We love each other and the bond that we have so much, and we can’t wait to see what this season holds for us.”