TMB ballers hit the court this week, as the winter sports season finally

got under way under the COVID cloud. But — at least for the time

being — they will have to do their thing with masks on.

By Per Peterson

The high school fall sports season was unlike any other. Not only were there no state tournaments, student-athletes had to follow certain guidelines, including wearing masks. But they didn’t have to wear them while competing.

That will change this winter, as basketball players will be required to don a mask during practice and competition.

“It’s not gonna be easy,” said TMB junior basketball player Tony Nelson. “We’re all over each other during games — your mask is gonna be falling down — are they gonna give us warnings or a technical if that happens? How is it gonna work?”

In-person winter sports practices at TMB for basketball, wrestling and dance got under way this Monday, and competition will begin Jan. 14. For basketball players, this season will look — and certainly feel — much different than past seasons.

TMB senior Jadyn Lessman said wearing a mask all day in school is one thing — wearing one on the court could be even more of a headache.

“It gets annoying even when just sitting in class — it’s going to be really hard to run and be able to breathe with it on, because a lot of people already run out of breath during the first week (of practice) anyway,” Lessman said.

The senior worries that masks will be nothing more than distraction for all players during games.

“Having to wear a mask the whole time will be a struggle,” she said. “It will be a distraction during games and will also be hard to keep on — I will probably have to duct tape mine to my face. There is no way I can dive after balls and run as fast and not worry about my mask falling off.”

Lessman said aside from making it harder to breathe during a game, masks could also hinder communication between players.

“There is a lot of eye contact and mouthing words to each other when passing the ball,” she said. “I feel that will be a challenge because a lot of the time you can tell by someone’s face if they want the ball or not — they may just be mouthing the words ‘ball’ or ‘I’m open.’ So not being able to see faces is going to be a challenge.”

TMB junior Christian Wendland said playing ball with a mask on will be difficult. The students’ use of masks during the school day has shown as much.

“When we play for fun at lunch with a mask on, it’s hard to get enough air, and when you take a deep breath it feels like the mask is pressing against your face,” he said.

And that feeling will only get worse during intense competition, he said.

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.