Updated: Mar 25, 2021
This year at Meredith College, things have looked a little different in the Athletic Department. Due to COVID-19, student athletes are participating in their sports in new ways. The Herald spoke with some of Meredith’s coaches about how the pandemic has impacted their practices, games and mindset.
When asked about this year’s changes, Head Softball Coach Kim Scavone said, “Our athletes are following strict guidelines to prioritize the health and safety of our team, opponents and campus community. Testing policies, mask mandates and social distancing measures have altered the look of our season but allowed us to return to the sport we love.” Athletes not only have to be smart about their social distance and mask-wearing, but they also need to be cautious about who they socialize with outside of athletics. Athletes are being tested a couple of days in advance of any game they plan to attend that week or weekend. For some teams, it has been easier to follow the protocols since they are six feet apart during typical gameplay. Head Tennis Coach Meredith Vincent Muempfer said, “For tennis, since we are a low-risk sport, we are able to practice at full capacity. We haven’t had to change too much when it comes to our practices besides making sure we are six feet apart when we are in a team huddle or drilling on the same court.” On the other hand, the Meredith Field Hockey team has had to make significant changes to how their team operates. Head Coach Courtney Hexter stated that “COVID actually impacted field hockey quite a bit. We were slated to start competing in the fall 2020 season but postponed our first competition season to now be in the fall of 2021.”
When it comes to game days, there are little to no spectators allowed due to the new USA South Athletic Conference guidelines. Lauren Scott, Head Lacrosse Coach, said, “The USA South Conference, in which Meredith College competes, has restricted fans for home games to two per person for the home team only. In addition, faculty, staff and students can attend games. All fans are expected to adhere to community standards while in attendance.” Meredith students are encouraged by the Athletic Department to attend outdoor games at Meredith and support their fellow students. Students must wear masks and social distance while at games and also have completed their CampusClear app. Athletes like lacrosse team captain Joy Dietrich, ‘21, have had to adapt to these changes, and many miss how things were prior to COVID-19. Dietrich told The Herald that “the overall atmosphere has changed” while playing her sport and that “it’s weird not high-fiving opposing teams after games, having little to no fans, not being able to hang out in the locker room before practices [and] not having team huddles.”
The coaches and athletes aren’t the only ones who have had to amend their practices during this time. Behind the scenes, the Meredith Athletic Training Team has been beside all of the athletes making sure everyone is following the rules and staying healthy. Head Cross Country and Track and Field Coach Field Miller said, “Our Athletic Department and Athletic Training staff has worked extremely hard to provide guidelines and safety measures in accordance to NCAA and Meredith Community standards.” As the Athletics Department approaches the year mark of operating under these new changes and protocols, the Meredith community continues to support student-athletes and advocate for healthy athletics participation.
By Mia Russell and Freya Dahlgren, Staff Writers