‘It feels like my freshman year’: SPS sees more fall sports sign-ups this year

SPOKANE, Wash. — The pandemic has left devastating impacts on students’ learning experience and their school activities, especially athletics.

After two years of being cooped up with COVID-19 restrictions, students are flocking to their favorite sports like football.

“It feels normal,” said Alexander Shaw, a senior who plays football at North Central High School. “It feels like my freshman year.”

Ever since Shaw was five years old, playing football was his life and his escape from stress at school. After the pandemic hit, the game changed, and so did football.

“A lot of the challenges were communication and teamwork,” Shaw said. “It was a lot harder to play as a whole group because you can be with one or two people at a time.”

His teammate also faced similar challenges.

“Sometimes school can be stressful with homework and everything,” said Trey Workman, a junior at North Central High School. “Coming to football after practices really helps a lot with mental health.”

With no masking, no testing, and no social distancing, the North Central Football team saw large numbers of students signing up this year.

“Numbers were always around 30 to 40 players,” said Aaron Woods, head football coach at North Central High School. “This year the big challenge for us was making sure we have enough athletes to fill all three teams. Fortunately for us, we had a very large turnout. We got close to 100 kids.”

Spokane Public Schools says the number of kids turning out for sports this fall is more than in pre-pandemic years. Fifty-eight more students from the Spokane Public Schools district registered for volleyball this fall, and 71 more kids participated in football.

With more fans being back in games, students say they are excited to play the ‘normal’ season again.

“It feels like a family again,” Shaw said. “You didn’t feel that two years ago, even a year ago. Now, you can really notice it.”

RELATED: Spokane Public Schools sets up clinic in Logan Elementary School to improve health care access