You hear birds chirping. You hear the ping of a metal bat striking a baseball. You hear the swish of a lacrosse ball accelerating into a net. You hear the rhythmic pounding of shoes on synthetic rubber. You are at Baltimore City College: it is springtime.
On March 15, 2021, Principal Harcum announced, “Baseball tryouts will start on Tuesday, March 16. All other spring sports will begin on Wednesday, March 17.” In the previous weeks, hopeful athletes were required to go through a registration process on an application called Dragonfly. Successfully completing Dragonfly, among other things, entailed uploading an updated physical form and getting approved by City’s athletic director, Rolynda Contee. Due to the copious amount of information required by Dragonfly, for many athletes it took almost a week to complete the entire process. Often, the extent to which an athlete had a physical ready to upload was the biggest factor in how long it would take them to finish. City offered physical exams earlier in the season but one now one month into the season, it is recommended aspiring athletes simply schedule one with their doctors.
There are many facets to the safety precautions City has taken for spring sports. The first is that athletes must always check in before joining their team. This means checking athletes’ temperatures with a temperature gun and having them fill out a form inquiring whether or not they have been experiencing certain symptoms related to Covid-19. Additionally, athletes and their parents/guardians are required to sign and agree to the “Parent/Guardian Consent Form for In-Person School and COVID-19 Awareness Agreement.” The form simply explains the precautions the school has taken for in-person activities and asks that participating members comply.
Baseball Specific Safety Precautions
In an interview with Mark Miazga, the head coach of City’s baseball team, Coach Miazga said, “I think we’re doing really well.” He listed the precautions the team was taking specifically: staying together as a pod, wearing masks 100% of the time, and disinfecting baseballs. He added that although on occasion players masks unintentionally slip down a little bit, teammates immediately point it out, keeping everyone safe. Since, he can’t be observing everyone at once, it is this type of athlete to athlete accountability that makes a safe spring season possible.
Covid Case on the Baseball Team
Recently, a player on the baseball team contracted Covid-19. The event induced a two week quarantine for everyone on the team. It appears that the athlete contracted the virus from someone not on the team. It currently also appears that the virus did not spread to anyone else on the team, let alone to an athlete in a different pod. The fact that the team was able to undergo a Covid-19 case without it spreading at all seems to serve as a testament to the efficacy of the safety precautions being taken by the administration.
Similar or Different
When Coach Miazga was asked how this year’s baseball season is similar or different from past years, he said that besides the required Covid-19 protocols such as checking-in, refraining from interacting with athletes on different teams, wearing masks, and disinfecting baseballs, the biggest difference is that players are all coming from different places. Some take public transportation, while others drive themselves or get rides from family or friends. This results in players arriving at different times and spending less time together, such as in the locker room. Otherwise, he noted that this spring season is a lot like that of previous years.
Should You Do a Spring Sport
Finally, there comes the question, “Should you do a spring sport?” For students at home, still on the fence about whether to participate in spring sports or not, Coach Miazga says, “Talk it over with your families of course, but the school system and the school administration here is doing, I think, a very thorough job of protecting everybody.” He recalled that multiple times administrative members have kept an eye on the baseball team, reminding them to stay off the turf field so as to keep the different pods (teams) separated. Additionally, he commended the efforts of City’s athletic director, Rolynda Contee, in successfully scheduling physicals and navigating the imposing task effectively communicating with everyone about how the season would work. Finally, Coach Miazga spoke the words that encompass what is truly on the minds of everyone doing spring sports: “It’s really great to be back out here.”