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Picayune athletics working to keep athletes safe during pandemic

A busy first semester is coming to an end for Picayune athletics, but there’s still more on the horizon as the programs balance competition with safety during the coronavirus pandemic.

Fall is giving way to winter and along with it comes a new slate of sports taking place at Picayune Memorial High School.

Picayune Athletic Director Adam Feeley said it took some time getting used to the new COVID-19 guidelines programs had to abide by, but as the seasons progressed the school has seen its efforts containing the virus pay off as fall sports finished without a hitch.

“We were trying to get kids back on campus where they were protected and doing what they were supposed to do following COVID-19 regulations and guidelines. We had a learning curve with it, but we had a lot of success with it,” Feeley said.

Financially the school’s athletic programs haven’t been hit too hard by the pandemic, yet.

Feeley said the programs’ budgets are based on last year, so after having reduced capacity this year at athletic events there could be some changes down the line.

However, there’s hope that not much will be affected due to the importance of the organizations the kids are involved in.

“Live streaming has really helped and will continue to help alleviate things we’re dealing with as far as not being able to sell tickets. We hope we’ll get to stay at the same level and let the kids compete. Extracurricular activities are so important for our kids and the school. It helps make them successful and want to continue,” Feeley said.

While COVID-19 has introduced a plethora of new routines and guidelines for coaches and players alike, the passion is still there.

Even with the pandemic ongoing, Feeley said he hasn’t seen a change in the level of commitment shown by students.

“Our kids here are resilient and we haven’t seen a drop off. The kids want to be involved and lead normal lives. Our job is to give them the chance to do that and only way to do that is continue to follow COVID-19 guidelines, and do the things that are necessary,” Feeley said.

The pandemic has put athletic programs in a position they’ve never been before.

This year has seen a lot of changes, but Feeley said the coaches and athletes are doing a good job of adapting to the new normal of 2020.

“They’re doing all the things they can to keep kids safe. We’re doing temperature checks and trying to protect the kids the best we know how. We’re following guidelines the CDC and Mississippi High School Activities Association gives us to protect them. Just living week by week, day by day and trying to get through (this),” Feeley said.