Athletes tackle new pandemic protocols

ALYSSA GALL
SPORTS WRITER
PHOTO BY LIZZY DERMODY

At Alma College, the fall semester looks different for students this year. This is especially true for the student athletes, whose sports are currently postponed due to the coronavirus. With the hope for the postponement to be lifted in the spring season, athletes remain optimistic as they enter their fall semester without sports.

This postponement is currently hindering the play and competition of all fall sports, such as football, golf, volleyball, cheerleading and cross country. While this postponement has canceled sports competitions for the fall season, it has not canceled the sports’ season fully. There are still decisions and regulations being established within the Athletic Department.

Alma College’s Athletic Director Sarah Dehring said, “Athletics has been working very closely with the Return to Campus Committee on the protocols for a safe return to campus. We have implemented quite a few new policies that have changed throughout the past few months and government, state and NCAA guidelines change.”

With these protocols and goals in mind, Alma’s Athletic Department and facilities have taken on a new look. These safety precautions are not only put in place for the students’ safety, but to ensure a successful and safe environment for athletes in order to prepare for a return to conference seasons.

“We will have single entry and exits in the Athletic Training and weight room facilities, we have a strict sign up process to ensure that we stay under the recommended COVID capacity, we are taking temperatures prior to every practice, and we are enforcing social distancing and masking,” said Dehring.

All of these precautions are set in place to ensure that athletes, despite not having a season, still have access to all of the accommodations Alma has to offer. Even though athletes are not competing, they still have the ability to safely use the Athletic Training room as well as the weight room.

Despite athletes returning to campus under new regulations that have prohibited them from competing, it has not fully limited how they can practice.

Alma’s Head Football Coach Jason Couch said, “We are not currently practicing. We are hoping to begin socially distanced practices starting the week of Sept. 7. Hopefully, the college will secure enough tests to test student-athletes and coaches weekly. If all goes well, we could have full-contact practices in October.”

Similar to football, many sports teams have been unable to return to their normal practices due to full-contact being prohibited and social distancing required. However, practice has started for some sports as long as they adhere to the necessary guidelines. If teams continue to obey mask wearing and new regulations, conference competitions in the spring look possible.

“Being six feet apart at all times means we are not allowed to stunt or do pyramids or basket tosses, so we practice stunting by using exercise bands and holding our own shoes to mimic stunting with a person. We are able to tumble, jump, work on choreography/motions and condition, which all have been things we’ve needed to work on as a team for years, so Covid-19 has forced us to work on our weaknesses!” said Olivia Manke(‘21).

Many teams have worked hard to overcome the changes coronavirus has had on the basic structures of their season and practices. Students are coping with losing their seasons, but coaches have also had to experience watching their players go through this issue.

“I think we all went through a period of disappointment and frustration, but we can’t control it and have to learn to move past those things we can’t control. My heart aches for the seniors,” said Coach Couch.

Despite not having a fall season, the postponement of sports has pointed toward a packed spring season full of not only all of the fall sports, but the spring sports as well. Football aims to have a five-game conference in the spring, while many spring sports hope to have a full season, which was cut short at the beginning of the coronavirus.

This pandemic and postponement of sports has helped a lot of athletes have a new perspective on their sports and seasons.

“When you find yourself thinking, ‘when is practice going to be over’ remember back to when the whole season was over before we were all expecting and wishing you could practice with your team one more time!” said Manke.

Alma College has made it clear that ultimately it comes down to the students and their compliance to ensuring the safety of all. If students maintain social distancing guidelines and wear a mask, the possibility of sports being able to compete in the spring remains on the table.

“We are all in this together. Mask up, social distance, stay safe, and use this fall as an opportunity to better yourself in your sport and in the classroom. One day we will compete again and the Scots will be prepared!”

Athletic Director, Sarah Dehring

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