High School Fall sports kick into action, student athletes tackle first week of practice

High School Sports

ERIE COUNTY N.Y. (WIVB) – Fall high school sports are back and right on schedule.

“The kids are just ecstatic and it’s going to be a big build-up to the opening of school next week Wednesday,” said Rich KoZak, who’s the head varsity boys soccer coach at Frontier High School.

Student-athletes just tackled their first week of practice.

“It feels amazing to be back on the field, especially because we can be more as a team, we don’t have to be separated. We don’t have to worry about who we can be around and what we have to do with our masks,” said Ava KoZak, who plays soccer at Frontier High School.

Ava, and other soccer players, are back on the field and say it’s a major win that the season is starting on time.

“It’s really nice to be playing with the boys and the whole team and get together because last year with masks, we all had to be far away you couldn’t really do anything,” said Avry Fields, who plays soccer at Frontier High School. “Our team chemistry this year is through the roof, we’re doing a ton of plays. It’s just exciting to see where it’ll take us this year.”

Last year, Fall sports, including football, soccer and field hockey, were pushed back because of the pandemic.

“It’s good to get back to a normal rhythm as much as possible,” said Glen Graham, who’s the football coach at Cleveland Hill High School. “I think we really need that for the student-athletes. Being back in rhythm gives them something to look forward to so it’s good to be in this position right now.”

Graham said he’s enjoyed seeing the students practicing again, and is getting them ready for their first game.

“There were still a lot of questions, a lot of doubts, how the schedules were abridged so you know, I think this year, the kids have a lot more confidence in the ability to just go out there and get things done,” Graham said.

In high school sports, masks are required unless you’re on the field. Still, the county “strongly recommends masking for all youth sport players during play and practice unless they’re unable to physically tolerate masking.”

If a team has even one positive case, vaccinated players and coaches can continue playing, but unvaccinated players must pause. If there are two or more cases, the whole team must pause to mitigate the risk of spreading it around.

“To have that school community that everyone else grow up with, those kids, or kids, haven’t had that. Seniors have had two years ripped away from them. So the best thing we can do is be excited, be safe and get back to normal and thanks for everyone’s support because without the community following these guidelines, this doesn’t happen,” KoZak said.

Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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