Anna Bauer ’23
The COVID-19 pandemic has complicated just about everything, and Trinity College’s Athletic teams are no exception to this. It has already been decided that Trinity will not be participating in any NESCAC competitions or NCAA championships this fall. However, according to the Director of Athletics, Drew Galbraith, the athletic department is doing everything it can so that all sports can have team practices in a safe manner.
This starts with a COVID-19 Education Workshop, with an assigned athletic training staff member, as well as an Athletic Orientation for all athletes before practices begin. The general guidelines are that indoor groups will be limited to ten students and outdoor groups will be limited to 25 students; however, the requirements that each team must adhere to during practices will vary depending on the sport and the kind of contact that would usually occur.
For example, volleyball will have group sizes limited to seven athletes at a time, and, to prevent close proximity, there will be no blocker when any hitting is done at the net. The football team will be required to split up into four groups of 20 and two of the four groups will practice at the same time, but on opposite ends of the field. For our lacrosse and soccer teams, coaches have the choice of either running multiple practices or dividing the groups as they see fit based on the team roster sizes.
In addition, at least for the first few weeks, no defensive plays or drills will occur during any team practices, and all of the players will be wearing masks under their helmets. This mask rule applies to all athletic teams. In addition, each practice must also have adult supervision, i.e. no captain’s practices. No close contact will occur throughout practices at the start, and, again, face coverings will be worn. The only exception is speed and conditioning work, but 12 feet of distance will be required between each athlete.
The winter teams have the potential to begin with a more normal start given that their first practice starts Oct. 15, while the spring and fall teams begin Sept. 18 – a full 14-days after the last students have arrived on campus. At the moment though, the close proximity required for winter sports like wrestling, basketball, ice hockey, and squash still leave these teams beginning with small group work and, of course, masks.
Now, while masks may seem like the devil when exerting a lot of physical energy (especially when your own sweat makes you feel like you’re drowning), the wearing of masks may allow athletic practices to normalize over the course of the semester. On a separate note, the swimming and diving team plans to utilize the U.S. Swimming guidelines, indicating how to properly distance within the parameters of a pool.
While this may be quite a rocky start, there remains hope that a slow progression to what practices and activities usually look like can be made by mid-to-late October. However, as one might assume, this is entirely dependent on the virus levels staying manageable not just on Trinity’s campus, but within the surrounding community and Connecticut as a whole. So, to all the athletes, keep the faith and hopefully we will see you in games soon.