Spring athletes prepare to compete
Edward Rudman – Sports Writer
Although no athletic programs were allowed to play a competitive season during the fall semester, spring sports teams now have a schedule in place. The first games are set for mid-March and in person practice began on Monday, Feb. 8, according to Interim Athletic Director Matt Letkowski.
“Our spring sports will begin to practice next week. They have not been approved for in person practices because we wanted to give the university a chance to open and to go through the COVID and testing procedures,” said Letkowski.
The spring sports will go through the same three-phase method it followed in the fall and will have bubbles within each team again in order to contain the spread of COVID-19 if an athlete were to test positive.
With the three phases approaching, after each week or two, athletics will see how training is going and if the spread of the virus is stagnant, more equipment will be permitted for use and a higher number of athletes will be able to train simultaneously and together.
If an athlete does test positive for the virus, then they and their bubble will quarantine in Neff Hall, according to Letkowski. Southern Athletics is in constant communication with the Northeast 10 about the upcoming season and COVID-19 protocols and procedures are doing everything in its power to ensure a competitive and safe season for spring sports.
“Everything is all reviewed internally and we have a plan in place, but it can be revised if we do have a spike or the university has a spike. We’re taking a phased-in approach to practice for the month of February, slowly increasing to the point of competition in March with Girl’s Lacrosse playing the first game,” said Letkowski.
Spring sports are the university’s current priority when it comes to ensuring a season, as they have already had a season cut short by COVID-19 last year when the spring semester was moved online.
Fall sports will be going through a slightly different plan, as there is no competitive season coming up for those teams this semester.
“We want to offer those athletes an on-campus experience as best as we can, of what they’re used to, obviously no competition is not what they’re used to but we’re going to try to do the best we can in terms of a same type of model,” said Letkowski.
Fall sports will begin in person training two weeks after the start of spring training. The teams will go through the same three phases that the spring sports will follow, including all additional protocols and procedures.
During the first phase for any team, training will consist of strength and conditioning in order to get the athletes who haven’t been able to train as effectively as desired back into competitive shape. If all goes to plan, competition will return to Southern’s campus and a sense of normalcy may as well.
“We’re always cognizant of the athlete’s experience because we brought them here, we want them to stay here and we want them to graduate from here, so it’s been a lot of what we can do to provide them as much of a normal athletic experience as we can,” said Giovanni D’Onofrio, assistant athletic director of athletics and fiscal affairs. “This built-in approach, it’s a teamwork type approach that athletes and coaches have to buy into, they understand if we get through week one then we go to week two.”