Winter sports update

PIHS athletic director, spectators, and players share what it was like to be back in the gym this year


Dave Allen

Senior Courtney Kane launches a shot in the game against Gorham on Friday November 26 in the Wildcats’ opening competition of the Tip Off Classic. For the first time since the 2019 season, all spectators were welcome back into the gym. “What I missed most last year is when you made a basket, there was no one there to cheer you on,” said Kane.

Cassidy Carlisle, Staff Writer

“The people who come to these games, they’re seeing people they haven’t seen since the 2019 basketball season,” PIHS Athletics Director Mark White said. “They’re getting to sit next to the same people they’ve sat next to for 30 years.”

As winter sports have just begun, people are starting to remember what a more normal winter sports season looked like before COVID. In the pre-season, administrators and players were planning how to handle a transition to a more normal winter sports season. This past weekend, Presque Isle hosted the 18th pre-season Tip Off Classic tournament. It was the first time since the 2019 winter sports season that there was no limit on the number of spectators allowed in the gym. 

“I think everyone has just missed being at the games, so the environment was great,” said Lindsey Himes ‘23. From a player’s perspective things were a little different. “Don’t get me wrong,” said Courtney Kane ‘22, “It was great to have fans back, but there is so much more pressure and I got so much more nervous than last year.”

One of the biggest questions asked right now is when PIHS teams travel to a school that does not require their students to wear a mask will PIHS athletes be required to? White said, “As of today, wherever our athletes travel they will be required to wear a mask. If a school does not require their athletes, coaches, officials, spectators, etc. to wear a mask, we may ask that they wear masks. How successful we will be at that, I don’t know.”

In terms of masking, basketball players have last year’s experience to help them adjust. “It’s definitely one of those obstacles that you have to work around,” said Kane. “It’s obviously not ideal, but if that’s what we need to do to play then it is what it is.” Although Kane does say one of the disadvantages to having spectators in the gym while also having to wear a mask is that the gym becomes even hotter.

Himes is not only a spectator at these games but is also part of the PIHS cheer squad. She said if all goes as planned they plan to cheer at the first regular season home game on Saturday, December 11. Himes said, “I don’t think our season will go as everyone would hope, but we have very few girls and a brand new coach, so I think it will be a growing year for us.”

White thinks that out of all the negatives of the COVID-19 pandemic he has finally found a positive. He said, “I think that people all over the state, especially people who never gave high school athletics a second thought, now know that interscholastic athletics in Maine is serious business, and when you prevent people’s ability to go to it that is an issue. Having spectators is just such a part of what we do.”