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Athletes say school sports with masks better than not playing

Published: Aug. 12, 2020 at 4:24 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 12, 2020 at 4:37 PM EDT
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ESSEX JUNCTION, Vt. (WCAX) - A Vermont statewide mask mandate will soon include school sporting events, not just for the spectators but for the athletes as well.

Sam Bowen is entering his senior year at Essex High School. "Yeah, it's going to be an interesting one," said the Essex Hornets starting quarterback. He says he supports wearing a mask when you can't socially distance, but he says they shouldn't be a part of the upcoming 7 on 7 season. "It's preferred not to wear one. We all hate them, but if it's what we got to do, we gotta do."

The Vermont Principals’ Association released guidelines Tuesday calling for face coverings for players, coaches and spectators. There is an exception -- cross country running -- where they will have staggered starts.

Kayla Guerino runs track for Essex and says she doesn’t train with a mask, but will wear one if it means she has a season. “I mean, it will definitely make it tougher, but I think it will make it worth it if I can have a season, since I didn’t get an outdoor season last year,” said the sophomore.

Over at HammerFit Athletic Club in Essex Junction, Bill Purdy is in for a one-on-one workout. The Burlington resident in his 60s and wore a mask when he walked in, but took it off for his workout. "I find it would be very difficult to be working out with a mask on," Purdy said.

His trainer, Ren Collier, wears a mask while they train. He says the issue of wearing a mask while working out or while competing creates a grey area. “It does present some issues for us in terms of where do we draw the line right now, because we are still learning so much about the illness,” Collier said.

He says exercise is helping people get through the pandemic, but that they should not be pushed out of their comfort zone. "I think we just got to do what's best for us, whether it's opting to not play the sport for now or wait till there's a vaccine," Collier said.

Back at the high school, Bowen says he will do whatever it takes to play football his senior year. "Honestly, I just want to play," he said.

High school sports are set to start at when school starts on September 8th.

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