Basketball season looks very different this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Arkansas Department of Health releases and updates guidelines for the sport to follow in order for participants and spectators to stay safe, which include the use of masks and spaced out seating.
The Bryant basketball teams have been following these guidelines. Inside the arena, every other row is taped off so that social distancing is enforced. There are COVID-19 warning signs posted around the facility and separate entrances and exits to reduce contact between people. Masks are also required while inside the building. Players are given the option to wear a mask while playing, but it is not enforced when they are on the court.
Along with the season looking different, there are a few new players who have transferred to Bryant as well as sophomores from the junior high. Juniors Kaden Keefer and Kade Ruffner are new to the team and have found that getting to know their team members is more challenging due to COVID-19.
“I think the most difficult part of this season has been getting comfortable playing with a new team,” Ruffner said. “Having to wear masks makes everything harder, especially meeting new people.”
Keefer agreed, but added that the team has been very accepting toward their new teammates.
“Everyone has been welcoming, which has made it easier to play together,” Keefer said.
Along with new safety precautions in practice, games also look very different. Although senior Austin Schroeder thinks the loss of energy has been difficult on the team, he knows the players are capable of maintaining the energy themselves.
“There hasn’t been much energy in the arena,” Schroeder said. “Most of the energy is generated by fans, and the loss of the student section means we have to generate that energy on the court. Thankfully, we have been able to generate the energy we need to play well and win our games.”
Although the season remains different from years prior, players say the coaches are working hard to make it as normal as possible. Games are still happening, and seniors are getting offered scholarships in college.
Overall, Keefer feels prepared for the season with high expectations and an eagerness to take state.
“The virus has made playing difficult this year, but we are more than ready for what the season has to offer,” Keefer said. “The coaches have prepared us for every situation, and as a team we are able to adapt.”