In a season already changed by COVID-19 precautions, there are a few other changes happening at Washington as fall practices get under way.

Lady Jays volleyball has a new head coach in Washington aluma Lindsay Meyer. The team has 20 freshmen trying out and an estimated total of 45 players in all.

“We plan to make cuts on Wednesday,” Meyer said. “We are not planning on a set number. It really depends on the players and team dynamic.” 

Teams are taking extra steps to try to avoid the spread of the virus.

“We have implemented a significant amount of changes to protect our athletes,” Meyer said. “We screen students and take their temperature before entering the gym. Athletes are required to social distance and wear masks when applicable.”

Volleyball is seeing changes to gameplay not related to the virus this season as MSHSAA switches from a three-set game format to five-set matches.

“The first day of practices went really well,” Meyer said. “Our girls all worked really hard and competed at a high level. They were excited and eager to get the season started. With all of the unknowns surrounding fall sports, I think they are thankful to be playing and ready to get the season underway.”

The girls golf team was one of those to get in an early morning practice ahead of the storm Monday afternoon and evening. Starting at 7 a.m. at Wolf Hollow Golf Course, the Lady Jays were also able to avoid the high heat index later in the day.

“We started at 7 this morning and had no issues with the heat today,” Head Coach Adam Fischer said. “We will be going early all week to avoid the heat, and hopefully the rain.”

The golf Lady Jays have 14 girls out for the team this fall.

“No tryouts,” Fischer said. “(We) will keep as many of them that want to come and work on their golf game every day for a few months.”

The team goes through a daily screening process prior to practice. Players are asked to wear masks during the daily check-in and any time they are unable to socially distance on the course.

The girls golf season will also see some alterations to the postseason and expand from two classes to four.

“Postseason qualifications have changed for golf,” Fischer said. “(It’s) no longer (the) top two teams move on. Now it is the top 18 (players, with ties) moving on. Also, there is no longer a sectional round.”

On the gridiron, Washington has between 75-80 players out for the team.

Severe thunderstorms starting soon after the team’s designated 5 p.m. practice start disrupted the team’s plans for the first practice.

“(The) first day of practice was very fitting for 2020,” Football Head Coach Derick Heflin said. “We were able to meet and get all of the paperwork complete. We had a team meeting and discussed our goals for the season and the storm hit. We were forced inside for the first day. It gave us a chance to review everything we were able to install this summer.”

The team has been somewhat limited in offseason activities due to the virus.

“We started workouts with the wrestling, basketball, and any athletes that wanted to come on June 1,” Heflin said. “We have gone from Phase 1 since then to Phase 3. We make sure we are keeping athletes 6 feet apart and masking them in activities when we are not active. We also were not able to go to team camp or any 7-on-7 due to the Missouri Football Coaches Association recommendations.”

Washington additionally has softball, boys soccer, boys swimming, and boys and girls cross country teams active this fall.