By: Maxmillian Robinson
Since Sept. 22 our Panther athletes have returned to their “normal” routines, as all athletes were cleared to continue daily practices with their respective teams.
But, there have been some changes.
“Before practice for us athletes on the track and field team, we must perform the
necessary precautions to keep myself as well as my teammates safe,” said runner Lindsay Shine. “This includes washing our hands often and wearing a mask. We also must fill out the quick survey on the Au2go app.”
Shine added that when entering the facility for either practice or rehab, she must show her “green screen.” (This is a checklist that asks several questions pertaining to if you have symptoms of covid-19. Once cleared, a green screen will pop up). This provides proof that she is cleared to be on campus, followed by a temperature check. During practice, the team breaks into units called “pods,” which consist of 10 people in a group who practice together for their warm-ups.
Since the track and field team has 65 members in total, these pods were created to help this team stay socially distant while practicing together. The athletes are required to wear masks in pods, but the coaches eventually ask them to take their masks off once the workouts begin.
Similar protocols are in place for other teams as well.
“Before practice everyone has to fill out questions to make sure no one has any symptoms,” said men’s soccer player Chris Freidlander.
Men’s basketball player Adonis Williams said that prior to practice all team members have to fill out the daily Covid-19 screening questionnaire. “Then we must take our temperatures before going to the locker room to get dressed. We do a weekly Covid test to ensure that we do not have the virus. After each member of the team tests negative then we can continue to practice,” he said.
The players said all these new procedures have impacted them both mentally and physically. Before practice was approved, several athletes didn't have the opportunity to consistently train over the summer. They were forced to go home, stay in quarantine and not only fear having to protect themselves, but protect their loved ones in the process. Athletes who live with their elderly members can't come in close contact with them after working out with others due to the risk. This has definitely left players frustrated with the world’s current situation.
“This pandemic has definitely taken a toll on me, both physically and mentally,” Shine said. “Running and hurdling has always been an outlet for me whenever I just need a break from schoolwork or any other stressors in my life. When the spring ‘20 season got canceled, it almost felt like a slap in the face. While it was best for everyone's health, both myself and my teammates were hard at work each and every day, preparing for what we believed was going to be a competitive and phenomenal season.”
Other players said that not even a pandemic can change their outlook on the impending season.
“This has not affected me at all,” Williams said. “It is just more of a daily reminder to take the proper precautions so that we can continue to practice.”
That doesn’t mean teammates aren’t being innovative about coping mechanisms. Williams said that the basketball team has decided to play music during practice, “which helps everyone remain in good spirits.”
Others, like Shine, said the focus is on remaining healthy.
“For the most part, all the rituals I've done in previous seasons are still the same, but for this year particularly, I’m focusing on my physical and mental well-being extra,” she said. “The last thing I want to do is compromise the semi-normalcy of seeing my teammates and training for what we hope is a great, safe and healthy season.”