How Closing the Locker Rooms Affects Pentucket Athletes

(Photo Article: Source:

(Photo Article: Source:

Lauren Arnold, Writer

Locker rooms jam-packed with 30 people at a time. Students race in after seventh period to find an area to change in before the bus leaves in just a few minutes. Minimal to no privacy whatsoever, bumping into other students as you get dressed. If you are an athlete at Pentucket, this probably rings a bell- and you might even be missing this experience. 


The hectic locker room situation at Pentucket before the time of Covid was already an issue, but now, there is a different problem: Instead of locker rooms filled at capacity with too many students, they are now filled with no students.


Since the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, Pentucket has taken great precautions against Covid-19, one of them being that locker rooms are closed due to poor ventilation.


These precautions have remained in place throughout all four sports seasons, however, spring sports are especially popular and have much higher turnouts. With Pentucket offering ten sports this spring, more students than ever are looking for a place to change after school.  


Without the locker rooms, most students who do not have a car to change in have resorted to changing in the bathrooms before practices and games. And if you have been in a Pentucket bathroom, they are probably not the most glorious place you have ever been. 


Bathroom floors are often wet and dirty- not an ideal place to leave a bag or have your bare feet touch while you change. However, there really is no other option for athletes. 


Not only can bathrooms be gross, but they also can be Covid hotspots. Around the school, bathrooms have either two or one stalls. Most bathroom doors state that there can only be one to three people at a time inside the bathrooms, but there have been instances where more than quadruple the recommended amount of people are crowded inside a bathroom after school changing. 

(Photo Source: Lauren Arnold) A Pentucket Bathroom


The reason behind closing the locker rooms is the lack of ventilation within locker rooms. However, are the bathrooms much better when there are 10 people at a time in a bathroom?


An anonymous student explains their experience with the bathrooms after school. “It’s hard, because in the past with the locker rooms, anybody and everybody could go in and change, but now I walk into bathrooms after school to change and there is either the maximum amount of people allowed, or big friend groups, and I feel uncomfortable going in. I have even shown up late to practice because of waiting for a place to change.” 


With the Pentucket locker rooms, any athlete could go in and change with a very inclusive environment, but now, many students have described poor experiences with trying to find a place to change. Many stories have involved students walking into several bathrooms filled at capacity. 


Field hockey and lacrosse player Katie Drislane explains her thoughts. “It is also an inconvenience to have to find a place to leave your bag in the morning since you cannot leave your sports bag in the locker room anymore.” 


Pentucket has not only prohibited students from gathering to change in the locker rooms, but also from leaving sports bags in there during the day. Some athletes have scrambled to find a teacher’s classroom to leave their bag in during the day, while others even carry their heavy bags around all day with them.


Dr. Ruland’s office is now constantly crowded with track bags, lacrosse sticks, and various other pieces of equipment as athletes do not have anywhere else to put their belongings. Many other teachers have offered to let students store their things in their classrooms because there does not seem to be any other option at the moment.


Libby Murphy suggests that keeping both locker rooms open would have been a safer option. “It would be much more split up because right now there are a ton of girls in the bathrooms and it is defeating the whole purpose.” 


Gym teacher Kim Kelley agrees. “At first, it was the right decision to close them because there were so many unknowns, and there was no ventilation or windows. However, I feel like now, moving forward, we could have a capacity limit and have the doors open, [allowing] a couple of people at a time in and out.”


The locker rooms are big, so if there was a limit on how many people could go in, and on top of that athletes could still use the bathrooms to change, athletes would be well broken up into different areas.


Alyssa Thompson also mentions how closing the locker rooms affected winter basketball athletes. “During basketball season, the locker rooms are where we have our team meetings and half-time talks. Without that, a lot changed and the energy was not the same.” 

(Photo Source: Pentucketathletics Instagram)

Not only are locker rooms a place for athletes to change, but they also are a place for athletes to meet with their teammates to talk about the game. Without the privacy of the locker room, it was hard for athletes to communicate and keep the same energy. 


So, were all of these Covid precautions really worth taking, when the bathrooms are posing the same problems? Maybe. However, many believe that the Covid precautions that Pentucket took to keep students and staff safe may have caused more safety issues than keeping the locker rooms open in the first place. 


Hopefully next fall, locker rooms will be open, and athletes and teams will be able to change and socialize again in the locker rooms.