There is a new look to the practice uniforms at local high schools and it will carry over to when the winter sports seasons start in earnest.
Thanks to a COVID-19 pandemic, which has drastically changed sports in North Dakota this year, there will be a new piece of uniform used this winter.
Masks will be present, not only at practices, but also during games.
The coach of the Hettinger-Scranton girls’ basketball team, Kelly Pierce, has had his girls practicing with the masks since they have first hit the court for practice.
“It feels like we are playing at high altitude,” the coach said his players are telling him in a recent interview. “It is not quite as easy to get your air.”
He also noted that physical conditioning is part of it, since the season is still early. “It is pretty difficult for the girls,” he added.
His squad has been to the state tournament twice and lost three to graduation off the 2019 squad. His top returnee is senior Samantha Oase who is a two-time all-state selection and recently signed to play at Black Hills State University in South Dakota after graduation.
The coach said that the team tries to play using Oase in the post while developing a strong offense from the outside.
The Night Hawks co-op squad opened the season Monday evening in Scranton.
For the Bowman County boys squad, the mask are also present at the practices and will be at the games – as well as when needed when the teams are traveling, head coach Nick Walker explained at a recent school board meeting.
“What I did at practices is I did periods like I do in football – with one minute mask breaks at the end of every period,” he explained.
“There is a perception in every community that these are Bowman County guidelines. This is from the high school athletic association. This is their recommendation for not only practice, but what we have to do when we go to games as well.”
The coach and co-athletic director also told the board that he had checked with other schools in the region and some schools outside the region and all were masked at least for some portions of their practices.
“Our coaches have the best interests of our kids (in mind)… and this has been an adjustment for everybody. We as coaches and athletic administrators understand the concerns, but we are just trying to follow the guidelines that have been set forth and trying to keep our seasons going,” he added.
The boys’ varsity team played Beulah Thursday at home and will travel to Beach Saturday for a 2 p.m. contest against the Buccaneers.