athletes train off campus due to covid-19

Edward Rudman Sports Writer

Colleges all over the United States have had some of their student athletes decide to opt out of training on campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Southern is no exception to this ruling.

“The NCAA came out and said every student athlete in the country has until Oct. 1 to let their schools know that they want to opt-out of athletic activities and by doing so, they will ensure they still get to keep their scholarships for this academic year,” said Matt Letkowski, associate director of athletics and compliance officer.

If a student athlete were to decide to opt out and it was past the deadline of Oct.1 , then a university would be allowed to take their athletic scholarships away.

At Southern, if a student decides to opt out past the set date, the university will continue to honor their scholarship, according to Letkowski.

The university is going to take a “student athlete friendly” approach to this situation and Letkowski said he does not see the school taking away any athletic scholarships during these times.

In terms of a student athlete deciding to opt back in for any reason, the university will allow them to rejoin their respective teams upon making that decision.

“We’re trying to do what’s best for the student athletes with their athletic career and if it’s COVID related, we’re not going to question anything,” said Head Athletic Director Jay Moran. “We’re here to work with the students on this and they’ll be a lot of questions as we move forward.”

New York resident and outside hitter Gabriela Gaibur, a sophomore, recorded 158 kills and 228 digs last year as a freshman and was a valuable piece of the volleyball teams’ young core.

However, she will not be returning to campus this semester to train with the team.

“I knew that it would definitely be a smarter decision for me to stay home since all my classes are online and financially it definitely helps me and my family a lot especially since this whole pandemic had a huge impact on us,” said Gaibur. “It was definitely a really hard decision, but I knew that the smart decision in the end was to stay home.”

Gaibur is not the only athlete opting out of being on campus, as track and field athlete Dan Labbadia, a senior, has made the same decision to forgo attending in person.

Labbadia finished fourth in the javelin at the Northeast 10 Championships his freshman year, but has not competed since due to Tommy John surgery and said it would make more sense to continue recovering on his own.

Training on his own time since March, he said he has been able to use all the necessary equipment he needs to continue progressing throughout this time.

With the limited training program that Southern will put into use in order to try and keep their athletes safe, Labbadia said it wouldn’t benefit him as much as continuing to train on his own.

“I was originally planning to train with the team but once it was announced that training was going to be different because of COVID and the phases being put in use, I opted out,” said Labbadia. “As a thrower, my primary practices are to lift and to throw and to work on technique and I felt if I was not going to get the chance to do that there’d be no point to train train with the team for this season.”

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