MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota student-athletes will return to the court or the ice Monday for the first time in more than six weeks.

Team sports have been on a timeout since mid-November when the state dial-back went into effect to try to slow the spread of COVID-19. The Minnesota Department of Health reported that 192 outbreaks were linked to sports.

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Student-athletes have handled a lot of changes over the last year. Now they’re getting ready to play again, but not without a few nerves.

Senior Skylar Kipka is the captain of Becker High School’s dance team.

“You don’t want to be like dying when we get back into the gym because it’s really hard,” Kipka said.

(credit: CBS)

She says it will take a minute to get back into a groove, and the mask requirement will be an adjustment.

“With competing and stuff, we are usually judged off of our facial expressions and all that kind of stuff, so like having to wear a mask is going to be, you know, interesting [to see] whether they’ll change the score sheet,” Kipka said.

Mason Schroeder is a senior on the Litchfield Dassel Cokato hockey team.

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“None of this was guaranteed in the start, so now that I know that we have a season, wearing masks or not, we just have to go out there,” Schroeder said. “If it’s a mask and you have to wear it, put on the mask.”

Students say the pause from their sport and teammates has been challenging, but they’ve kept at it during the break. Kipka hosted Zoom workouts with her team, which Schroeder practiced hockey at home outside.

Kennedy Hanson, who plays on Greenway High School’s girls basketball team, has worked out wearing a mask to get ready.

“I try to keep myself busy because I still had in my mind I’m gonna have a season, so I’ve actually been working out every day when I get done with school,” Hanson said.

No matter the requirements, or what the future holds, these students say they’re just excited to get back to doing what they love.

“I’m just really excited to get back into the gym tomorrow, honestly,” Kipka said.

While practices start up on Monday, games won’t resume until Jan. 14.

The group Let Them Play MN sued Gov. Tim Walz for the pause on sports. A judge denied it, but they are appealing part of the lawsuit.

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Kate Raddatz