Mr. Barker Interview

Mr. Barker Interview

Sami Haddad, Editor

The students have noticed the change in sports this year. The past few years we all have memories of chanting at Soccer Park as our team made its way through the State Tournament. This year no such occasions are possible. The closest thing we can get to that is watching the game on our phones, which, if I am being honest, does not at all compare. However, something to keep in mind is that not all of these decisions being made are up to the school. For the most part, the decisions are made by St. Louis County and the school is doing its part to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by complying with the mandates. The editors believed, however, that we should provide the students with some answers to their questions. To do this, we sat down with Priory’s new athletic director, Mr. Barker.

Mr. Barker told us that first and foremost he is excited to be back in the classroom, something that is not always part of an athletic director’s job. Throughout his whole career, he has strived to set his students and athletes up for success, and this year is no different. He said that the coaches and staff have been extremely flexible and helpful throughout this difficult process. 

We began the interview by asking him about the three fall sports: cross country, soccer, and football. All three of these sports have been affected in pretty similar ways. Football had to begin later in the season because it is a very high contact sport, but the precautions being put in place are similar to those of cross country and soccer. When athletes are not participating, they have to wear masks and be socially distanced at all times. Mr. Barker acknowledged that this is oftentimes hard to do, but that the athletes have been doing a great job so far. The importance of this precaution is to limit the possibility of a game or practice becoming a superspreader situation. 

After this soft opening, we got to the topic on everyone’s mind: the fans. Mr. Barker explained that as of now there is a strict policy about fans. At every event, each active athlete is only allowed to have two family members present. This means that if an athlete is not going to play that day they cannot have any family members there. This also means that non-family members are not allowed to attend the games no matter what. Mr Barker said, “I know that some students have been finding the loophole in the system and attending games because certain players said their parents were not going to go. Unfortunately, I am here to break the news to all of you that this is not allowed. I believe that in the best interest of the athletes all students should follow this policy to keep sports running.” 

Finally, we asked Mr. Barker about the long term implications of this entire situation. He said that with Priory being a smaller school has made it harder. One of the options looked at was an alternative fall sports season in the spring. However, Priory never considered this option. The reason we did not consider this is because there are only three fall sports and there are eight spring sports (including the play). This difference in numbers would have made it nearly impossible to fill spring teams, especially the lacrosse team which heavily overlaps with the football team. He said that because we avoided the alternate fall it does not look like there will be lasting implications other than the fact that we have become more aware of our hygiene. Mr. Barker said that hopefully, we will be back to normal sports seasons soon. 

We would like to thank Mr. Barker for taking the time to sit down with us. We know there was a lot of confusion before. A lot of people were pointing fingers at Priory’s administration for all of the changes when in reality Priory is simply trying to do its best to keep its kids safe. This interview made this very clear. If you are to get anything from this article let it be that Mr. Barker, the coaches, and all other staff are doing everything they can to let us play and keep us safe. I know us editors are extremely thankful for all of the work that has gone into making these seasons, although shortened, even happen.