Greetings to all SMA Bear parents and fans! I wanted to take a moment to reach out and share about a topic that I am quite sure everyone is tired of, but one that is part of our current world, like it or not.
If you have been to a volleyball game since we finally were able to get our season started, you have passed several signs that tell you that PPE (masks) are required at all times while in our gym. You will soon see the same signs at entry points for our home football games. Once our online ticketing program is live, you will also, as a condition of purchasing a ticket, acknowledge among other things that you understand that masks are to be worn during games.
Here’s what I want everyone to understand. As most of you know, we lost a large portion of our spring sports seasons last school year. Since then, I can comfortably speak for all coaches in saying there was a lot of uncertainty about what would happen to fall sports, and a lot of worry that our fall seasons wouldn’t happen. While as you all know, the fall sports were delayed a bit, we all feel incredibly blessed to now be able to carry on our football and volleyball seasons. I also very strongly believe that we need to enjoy every game that we can, while we can, because we already know it could be yanked away from us again. There are obviously things outside of our control that could shut our seasons down, but there also things within our control. I do NOT want us as adults to do anything to jeopardize our players’ seasons, especially our senior players. When we were given a green light to start back up, it was with some specific stipulations mandated by TAPPS, our governing body for Athletics and Fine Arts. One of those stipulations is that all fans and players on the bench MUST wear masks.
I unfortunately have had to take on the role of “mask police” at volleyball games, and also for our home football scrimmage last week. I would much rather watch the game and cheer our kids on then constantly be on the lookout for non-compliance, but this is important. Understand that at the public school level, many schools were called out on social media for ignoring UIL mandates. UIL took note and reprimanded several schools as a result. TAPPS officials I’m sure went into our later start with eyes wide open, and they have already sent emails congratulating those who are following their mandates, but also calling out schools that are refusing to do so. Schools who fail to comply will receive consequences.
I want to be very clear: this is not at all about political ideology. From my standpoint, all I care about is what is best for our students, and I will fight to the best of my ability to make sure that our kids don’t lose something they love and have worked their tails off for because someone doesn’t want to wear a mask. Any fans who refuse to comply with the guidelines will be asked to leave, and coaches will be tasked with making sure they have compliance on their benches as well. Please note as well that when we travel to out of town games, our hosts will expect us to follow exactly the same rules.
Thank you for recognizing the importance of compliance and for doing your part to make this a great season for our student athletes.
—Toby Wade, SMA Athletic Director