First week of practices complete

Coaches reflect on COVID-19 restrictions for teams

Megan Julian, Sports Editor

Athletes and coaches have begun to feel a little bit of normalcy this past week with practices returning for fall sports.

According to Athletic Director Kiki Jacobs, the department is allowing teams to practice up to four days per week for a maximum of two hours a day. Masks are to be worn for all practices and teams are divided into pods of 10 or fewer people for the first two weeks of practice.

“After two weeks, if things are going well, we will increase the size of the pods to 20,” Jacobs said. “Practice equipment may not be shared outside of the pods. All equipment must be cleaned and sanitized at the beginning and end of each practice.”

Jacobs said they are keeping it safe right now by not allowing scrimmages and encouraging physical distancing as much as possible.

Athletes and coaches are also required to get their temperatures taken every day before the teams go out to practice. Jacobs said coaches and athletes have been very understanding of the new regulations.

“I know it is hard. None of us like wearing a mask all day, but it is just a fact of life right now. The better we do with this, the better the campus will do as a whole. Most understand this,” Jacobs said.

Cross Country Coach Sean Livingston said it is very challenging for everyone but his team understands.

“We’re all in this together. They know it wouldn’t take much to have this whole thing fall apart and have the team not be able to practice if the number of positive cases go up,” Livingston said.

The cross country team is currently practicing in pods of 10 or less. They are wearing masks at all times on campus. When the runners are off campus, they need to be 15 feet apart if running without a mask on.

The team does face some challenges when abiding by the protocol.

“Running nine or 10 miles in the heat with a mask on is not ideal and that being ‘together’ but still separate from their teammates on the long runs can be difficult,”  Livingston said.

On the soccer field, men’s head coach, James Greenslit said he acknowledges wearing a mask while playing soccer is not the most comfortable thing for players but he said the players have been diligent about wearing their masks throughout all of practice.

“There has been no push back,” Greenslit said. “They have come to understand the importance of wearing masks even when it is uncomfortable on the soccer field.”

As for women’s soccer, players also understand the protocol completely, according to Head Coach Timothy Moody. He believes the most challenging thing for his team is missing out on the opportunities that occur in a regular season.

“The freshmen don’t know any different, but the returners would be thinking about the home games we are missing,” Coach Moody said. “All the team bonding activities we aren’t allowed to engage in as a large group that takes place at the beginning of the semester. It is difficult to get to know each other when you cannot spend any quality time with them in person.”

The volleyball team has also been following the regulations put in place. Head Coach Danielle Soubliere said the most challenging thing for her is figuring out how to have her team practice in the safest way.

“In volleyball, we share equipment no matter what. It’s part of our sport. So, coming up with creative ways to follow the guidelines and make sure we keep the team safe and are still able to practice in an efficient way,” Soubliere said.

Even through the challenges, Soubliere is grateful for the return to practices.

“Being back in the gym with the players, it makes things feel a little back to normal again,” Soubliere said.