Return from COVID-19 lockdowns seeds lower participation in school sports

It’s an issue for Dansville’s sports teams
Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 5:15 PM EDT
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DANSVILLE, Mich. (WILX) - It’s hard to win a game - let alone play - when your team doesn’t have enough players.

It’s an issue at Dansville schools.

“It gets really tiring when you have no subs at all,” said Dansville senior Chase Goff. “It’s rough.”

“You start thinking about are you gonna have a team, are you not gonna have a team?” said Dansville Athletic Director Jeff Dassance. “So it’s frustrating at the beginning. It’s tough.”

The aggies have managed to stop the bleeding, at least for the fall season.

“It was concerning,” said Dansville Assistant Soccer Coach Trevor Brusseau. “On day one, I think we had seven out at tryouts and we need 11 to even field a team. Even with with 11, we were gonna be in a pickle when it came to substitutions and making that work.”

Now, the soccer team is up to 15 players, still far cry from a full squad.

Players, coaches and administrators tell News 10 they’ve noticed the lack of participation since COVID-19 restrictions loosened.

“I think I think some people got comfortable during COVID and not where they weren’t able to do things and they got comfortable not doing things,” said Dassance.

“It allowed the players to to rest and realize that you know, we don’t you don’t necessarily have to play a sport to enjoy life,” said Dansville Football Coach Zach Mendez, whose team only has 25 players. “And you know, that’s okay.”

“People just got lazy,” Goff said, “and then also, when people get criticized, they didn’t like the criticism much. It just was like a lot different coming back from post pandemic.”

Goff plays three sports for the aggies this fall alone: Soccer, Football, and Cross Country: all teams with low numbers.

He’s doing what he can to help more kids get involved.

“We have to go over to the cross country team, get them to have a couple over here so that I’ll go run for the cross country team just so we can get a couple players over here.”

“We need positive recruiters,” said Dassance. “These kids are out talking their friends and things like that.”

Dassance says they’re always on the recruiting trail, and it’s a team effort to bring kids back inside the lines.

“Coaches have that open mindset of taking kids in, and even if they haven’t played before, come on out, you know? We’ll teach you, we’ll put you somewhere where you can be successful.”

“The more kids we have in sports, I think the better the atmosphere and and the better, a lot of times, they do in the classroom,” Said Mendez. “So we’re just continuing to encourage the kids to come out for sports.”

Dansville hasn’t had to forfeit a game, but Dassance says they’ve had to adjust schedules to ensure student athletes aren’t overworked.

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