Playing in an Empty Gym; No Spectators Allowed to Start Winter Sports Season

Superintendent Chad Higgins announces that there will be no spectators permitted to attend student athletic events hosted at Maize USD 266 schools and facilities to start the winter season.


Visual by 2020 graduate Alec Pham-Maize High

Basketball players, (from left to right) Parker Scott and Tysaac Noland, pose for their Seamless Productions sports hype video in December of 2019. OneMa1ze Broadcasting was unable to produce hype videos this school year to due limitations with student travel, equipment and being full remote.

Marvin Cao, Bullseye Staff Reporter

As athletes train and fans prepare to watch USD 266 games from the comfort of their homes to start the year, tensions from COVID-19 look set to worsen this winter with increasing COVID-19 numbers in Sedgwick County.

During this time, district leaders held a meeting on November 9, 2020, to limit the number of spectators for the incoming winter sports games at both high schools.

Chad Higgins, the superintendent of USD 266, announced that there will be no spectators permitted to attend student athletic events hosted at Maize USD 266 schools and facilities starting on November 10.

Board of Education meet to vote on a motion in a special meeting from October 26. The USD 266 committee members have actively met weekly this school year to assess learning models, athletics and dozens of variables having to do with our student and community safety. (Screen shot by Marvin Cao)

Maize South principal Dave Hickerson believes that Higgins made the best decision for the Maize community to keep athletes competing in our facilities.

“Given the current situation with COVID-19, I feel like it will be what’s best for the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff, and community,” Hickerson said. “I will miss the awesome crowds and in-person support we always have.”

As the winter sports are taking foot for the season, Tyler Kemp, bowling coach for Maize South, has confidence that they (Maize South bowling team) will keep pressing on despite the decision from USD 266.

“The effects on athletes and coaches are more than likely similar in the fact that no matter what is going on around them,” Kemp said. “They have a job to do.”

Junior Carter Bowles throws the bowling ball towards the lead pin at one of the Mavericks first tournaments of the year during the 2019-2020 season in Derby, Kansas. (Photo by Tyler Trice)

Some Maize South High students, like junior  athlete Kevin Allen, are actually worried about their mental health since they won’t have the crowd cheering for them as they play.

“The effects on the coaches and the athletes could be the difficulty in competitiveness with barely a crowd,” Allen said. “I hope it will all return to normal next year.”

Although no spectators are permitted to attend student athletic events, they can be watched from live streams through the NFHS network or other live streaming productions within Maize South or other AVCTL Division 1 and 2 schools.

“All of our home games will be live-streamed on the NFHS Network,” Hickerson said. “In addition, most of the schools we will compete against will also be streaming events when we are on the road.”

Many people hope that the COVID-19 pandemic would end in the near future, although the infection rate is rising as high as 21.6 percent from early November.

“I really don’t have any idea when things may return to normal,” Hickerson said. “I’m hoping that with our mitigation processes in place early in the season, we will be able to start admitting fans in late January so parents, friends, and our MSHS community can show their support for the Mavericks in person.”

Despite all of that, people still hold on to the hope that the pandemic would end as the vaccine continues to be tested through the winter to see how effective the first batch of doses may be for Americans.

“Eventually (everything will return to normal) yes,” Kemp said. “However, not until a vaccine is widely produced, tested, approved, and taken will that be possible.”