March 13, 2020: the day everything came to a stop. Schools and businesses closed, sports seasons ended, travel halted and it felt as if the world had stopped turning.
Instead of wasting time recounting the past seven months, however, here is some information that may seem like light at the end of a tunnel.
By Oct. 1 all athletics had the opportunity to start organized practices. Each sports team that in previous seasons would have already been weeks into their season has taken part in either organized practices or lifting starting on Oct. 1.
UW-Platteville has taken careful consideration and thought of multiple ways to keep the athletes, staff, campus and community healthy and safe.
A recent interview with Nathan Mowry, sophomore baseball player at UW-Platteville, provides insight into what athletes are doing to prevent the spread of any sickness and what practices look like now.
“We use ‘Sway,’ an app that evaluates any symptoms we may have, to ensure we are healthy for practice. We must use this every day. If not completed that day, we are not allowed to practice. We always wear a mask while maintaining six feet of distance when possible, and we all get tested three times a week at our health facility on campus.”
Other teams are taking the same precautions, being tested multiple times, wearing masks and sanitizing when an object is shared by multiple people.
So far, no teams on campus have taken part in competition with other schools. With proper precautions being taken, the athletic programs have high hopes of being able to participate in game play soon and have a somewhat regular season.
MJ Stephens, a freshman on the track and field team talked about how the pandemic affected her decision to participate in athletics here at UW-Platteville.
“I was unsure if I really wanted to be on the team with everything going on, but I am so glad I decided to participate in track. Even with the social distancing and masks, it’s still a lot of fun.”
Other athletes relate to the uncertainty surrounding participation due to the abnormality of the season. Some athletes are choosing to stay with their teams and others are parting ways.
With UW-Platteville being a Division III school, it does not offer scholarships to athletes for participating in sports, but athletes who lost their season last year have been granted another year of eligibility to make up for their lost season.
Kaylee Meyers, a sophomore on the women’s basketball team, provided information about the upcoming season and how the community can be involved.
“We are cleared to start games after Jan. 1, only conference, if we are approved to play. Games will be broadcasted, and that will be the only way for spectators to watch for now. Hopefully, this is not the case, and a few spectators can attend.”
Jeff Pustina, the women’s assistant basketball coach, shared ways to support the university’s teams.
“Emailing or having signs made in support is a great way to be involved. Supporting our teams with a meal during the time frame when campus will be empty would also be a special way to show support.”
Hopefully in weeks to come everyone will be more at ease with a definite answer as to how things will be and how to support the teams we have missed for so long.
COVID-19 is not only affecting this season but also seasons to come. With some high schools not having seasons and spectators being denied access to games, it is hard to find young adults to recruit for the next season.
Pustina spoke about the struggle and how they are dealing with it.
“Recruiting has been difficult for our staff, as well as for the student athletes,” he said. “Relying on watching AAU tournaments online or watching video that athletes have sent us doesn’t always show the total package for each player. Going to tournaments and finding that diamond in the rough is nonexistent. Zoom meetings have been the norm with athletes and parents. Those types of meetings are nice but getting a real feel for an athlete’s intentions is difficult to determine.”
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