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Bozeman athletic director Mark Ator discusses navigating high school sports through COVID-19

Mark Ator
Posted at 4:57 PM, Dec 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-11 00:11:24-05

BOZEMAN — Though challenging, Montana made it through the fall high school sports season, and Bozeman High and Bozeman Gallatin athletic director Mark Ator discussed how schools successfully navigated through COVID-19 and what they learned heading into winter sports.

“I thought the fall went extremely well," Ator said. "I think the big key is that the kids and the coaches worked really hard at following the protocols.”

A few things that worked were having separate buses, seating charts for contact tracing and Zoom meetings, just to name a few.

“We feel like if we follow our protocols every day we come in, we do a temperature check on kids, we make sure they look and feel healthy enough to practice, if they follow those things we feel like we have a good chance of making it through the season,” Ator said.

Wrestling, easily the most contact sport offered by the Montana High School Association, is what a lot of people are worried about, but this is a road the sport navigates through every year.

“With wrestling, they’re used to doing this," said Ator said of the numerous health protocols in place even prior to the coronavirus pandemic. "We’ll be putting extra time in cleaning the mats, doing more in practice than what’s been done in the past.”

For swimming, the teams could have most of their meets go virtual.

“We’re hoping to do some live meets, there might be some virtual meets where we keep track of our own times and then we post them on a spreadsheet,” said Ator.

As of right now, attendance will still be limited to two people per player, coach and cheerleader. The schools will also be more strict about people wearing their masks.

“I think as long everybody remembers the most important thing (is) that the kids get to play, I think we’ll be fine,” Ator said.