By Caroline Polian
From wearing masks to practicing social distancing, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a new normal that would have been unimaginable months ago. The 2020-2021 season for all Ponte Vedra Sharks athletic programs will look different due to county regulations, along with various precautions taken to protect coaches, players, and fans.
This year, the Sharks’ football stadium and gym can only be at 30 percent capacity during athletic events, which means that each spectator must be accounted for. There is limited opportunity for students to attend, with fewer tickets being sold for both home and away games. For football games, every parent who has a senior participating in band, cheer, dance, or football has the chance to purchase two tickets. On Wednesdays, any tickets that have not yet been purchased will be available for student purchase.
“Since there will be less people in the gym, it will probably be very quiet, and I think that will be one big way that our season will look different,” says Sharks Volleyball player Ava-Grace Redick.
Live games will be streamed through NFHS Network, which allows fans to cheer on the Sharks from their own homes. To access games, the viewer must have an account and subscription to the NFHS Network,
On Friday nights, the cheerleaders and dancers will now be performing in both end zones instead of next to the student section in order to be socially distanced from the football team. The band will be performing from a different area as well. Additionally, every athletic program has added masks to their uniforms in an effort to protect themselves and those around them and comply with COVID regulations.
“We have to wear masks during practice and while we stunt. However, each cheer stunt group is six feet apart,” adds Taylor Dean, a Sharks Cheerleader.
Although they are not athletes, the General Booster Club, a non-profit organization comprised of student-athlete families that provides varying financial support to all PVHS sports programs, will also adjust its look for this school year. Individual booster memberships will no longer be determined by levels, but instead from the sport played by the PVHS athlete.
Every sport will have a different fee based upon the financial needs of that specific program. For example, a varsity football membership costs $250, while volleyball membership costs $575. The General Booster program collects 15 percent of each membership and dedicates it to helping the athletic programs. The remaining funds are allocated to individual sports based upon the joining member’s choice of fee allocation (ex: 50 percent of the money goes to football, 50 percent of the money goes to girls’ tennis). It is suggested for families to pay, but student athletes will still be allowed to play even if they do not have a booster membership. For seasons following 2020-2021, the booster club expects to go back to previous levels of membership.