North Texas high school athletes waiting to see how COVID spike will affect fall sports

As North Texas students return to the classroom this fall, high school athletics will also be starting up.

But this semester could be especially complicated for student-athletes with strict state rules regarding masks and vaccinations and a more contagious delta variant.

Many high school athletes use their sport to earn a scholarship. That was a struggle for some last year who couldn’t always get on the field because of COVID-19.

This year, there’s still plenty of uncertainty as to what the season will look like.

Dallas ISD teams hosted their first official practices of the season Monday while hoping this season is more normal than last season.

"Yeah because I don’t want to have my year stripped away from me like some of the seniors this past year had," said player Alex Bowman.

COVID-19 tackled any plans of a traditional season in 2020. Now, delta variant cases are rising.

"We just hope they don’t shut us down," said Madison High School Head Coach Marcus Gates.

The coach says half his players are vaccinated. He wishes he only had to concentrate on what’s happening on the field.

"For us, we spend a lot of time trying to figure out who’s going to be the guy," he said.

But now, Gates believes when it comes to safety, they have to keep their guard up.

The UIL, which provides guidance to public school athletic programs, tells FOX 4 it’s still planning for a full return to activities this fall. 

Senior running back Joseph Gatlin hopes his work this season allows him to score football scholarship offers on top of academic offers.

"I just want to get older to where I can be successful," he said.

Gatlin says he’ll benefit from a full season to collect plays for a highlight reel instead of last season’s slim schedule.

"We didn’t know if we was going to play our next game because of COVID," he said.

The UIL says if a student athlete or coach tests positive for COVID-19, the school must notify its local health department. Schools cannot require students, staff or coaches to wear masks, according to Gov. Greg Abbott’s order.