Coronavirus stops some prep sports traditions, but schools adjust to celebrate

This fall's prep sports teams - including state playoff squads like Badin High School's football squad - lost many of their school traditions due to coronavirus precautions impacting thousands of students and fans. But Badin and other schools adjusted. Pictured are some of the Badin staffers who put on a football game watch party earlier this season in the Hamilton school's parking lot. (Provided Photo\Journal-News)
This fall's prep sports teams - including state playoff squads like Badin High School's football squad - lost many of their school traditions due to coronavirus precautions impacting thousands of students and fans. But Badin and other schools adjusted. Pictured are some of the Badin staffers who put on a football game watch party earlier this season in the Hamilton school's parking lot. (Provided Photo\Journal-News)

As some area high schools prepare for the next round of state football playoffs this weekend, their teams are also going through a coronavirus-impacted season without many of their school traditions of support.

From prohibited pep rallies to few fans in the stands due to health restrictions, it has been a far-from-normal prep sports season for both local boys and girls' team and individual sports.

High schools – including playoff teams from Badin High School, Ross, Kings and Lakota West - have been creative in their workarounds on the coronavirus restrictions.

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Broadcasting games online, holding digital pep rallies and even hosting game watch parties in school parking lots with a football game projected on a giant, inflatable screen as Badin did earlier in the season.

“We’ve tried to make the best of this unusual situation,” said Dirk Allen, spokesman for the Hamilton-based high school whose undefeated football team (7-0) will play tonight in the Division III regional semifinals against Kettering Alter High School.

“So while the virus has upended some things that we typically do - we haven’t been able to have a pep rally - necessity is the mother of invention,” said Allen.

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"We’ve had some limited Senior Day recognitions. We have avid fans who pay attention to the Covid rules even though crowd capacities have been limited, and we have enhanced our efforts to live-stream our sports for those who can’t attend in person.

“The highlight was our homecoming football game with Dayton Carroll High School, when we brought a huge blow-up drive-in movie screen into our student parking lot and more than 200 students showed up to watch the game in a socially-distanced fashion,” said Allen.

Kings Athletic Director Tyler Miller, said “Covid-19 and the procedures and regulations in place have made it extremely difficult to carry on the traditions we have.”

“We have had to take a look at each tradition, whether a pep-rally, Walk of Champions, Senior Nights, Signing Days, Winter Team Nights, major fundraisers, etc., and look at all options of how we can continue these events.”

“Unfortunately, some are just not possible to host as they include welcoming in very large crowds and putting people at high risk. We have used our YouTube Channel to create virtual versions of some of these events. It’s very important to us that we do all we can to continue the traditions that our seniors and students cherish,” said Miller.

But school officials said nothing can replace the real experiences for students their schools have established during decades of traditions.

And a historically good football team and other squads makes the loss of those traditions tougher, said Jake Richards, athletic director of Ross High School.

“These changes are especially painful this fall given all of our athletic success thus far. The (Ross) Rams are league champions in football, boys and girls soccer, and tennis, and the football team has now achieved the first two playoff wins in program history,” said Richards.

“And we made the playoffs last year for the first time since 2013 but the Covid-19 pandemic has quite literally changed everything we do,” he said.

Still, school pride perseveres, said Allen as Badin prepares for tonight’s playoff game.

“The bottom line is, we’re glad to be playing and competing very well.”

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