UCC sports training under NWAC color phase protocol
UCC athletes going to
compete this year? With all the social
, and group meeting regulations it is hard to
imagine how, but the UCC athletic department and coaches have been working to
uphold the Northwest Athletic Conference guideline, safe, healthy athletic
competition. Seasons will open late, and
UCC players will still be able to compete this year.
NWAC adopted a colored phase protocol in 2020. These phases apply to all sports, indoor and outdoor. Each phase lasts approximately two weeks, beginning with full 14-day quarantine in the gray phase. Athletes stay within the residence they will be living while participating in sports. Under these gray phase guidelines, athletes can do individual workouts in their own space. A 14-day quarantine is required every time an athlete leaves town and symptom checks are done daily, according to NWAC and UCC coaches. Players began their quarantine upon returning to UCC after the winter holiday season.
Red phase allows players to begin training in small groups of about seven to 10. Vulnerable athletes must train separately. All non-essential travel is limited, and virtual meeting are recommended when possible. Training is limited to an hour at a time. UCC gyms have been modified to honor coordinating NWAC protocols. Most of UCC athletics is currently in, or moving out of, this red phase.
In the yellow phase, the entire team may train together in groups of up to 50. Most UCC sports should be in yellow phase by early February, according to Craig Jackson, athletic director.
NWAC has identified a green phase which allows for free movement during training, if proper sanitation procedures are being followed, and lifts restrictions on event staffing. Modifications are to be considered for spectators and continued physical distancing.
Restrictions for spectators and physical distancing will lift once progress is made to the blue or “all clear” phase. All athletes will continue to have temperature checks until guidelines are altered or blue phase is reached, and players will be required to wear masks while competing.
Extra conditioning has been added to make up for lack of contact in sports like wrestling. “There is only so much we can compensate for,” Jackson said in a phone interview. He stressed that UCC coaches are training athletes in the best ways possible within the current guideline restrictions.
The biggest struggle for coaches has been planning, according to Jackson: “We usually begin planning a year out.” Sanctions in 2020 made planning nearly impossible with guideline changes happening every other month.
UCC athletes are feeling the strain of social distancing and color phases as well. Jeremiah Robbins, UCC baseball coach, said, “It’s wearing on them.” Coaches are keeping larger goals in front of athletes that help them to stay focused on training, even when the seasons are not going as planned.
Coach Robbins emphasized, “(Players) will still have an opportunity to perform in front of scouts. We will get them where they want to go and still meet their goals,” despite championships being cancelled for most sports. The focus for coaches has been to create as much normalcy as possible in the wake of the pandemic, including rearranging the weight room and other fitness facilities.
All NWAC sport seasons will be opening for competition in the 2021 academic year. Most, if not all seasons will be opening late. Women’s soccer is just starting but were unable to train this season, according to Jackson. Cross country is expected to open mid-February, followed by a few out of state wrestling matches in March. Baseball will get the best of their spring season weather once competitions begin in April. Volleyball and basketball season will also open in April. Obstacle course events are scheduled for the fall and E-sports will be one of the few sports participating in championships this year. Wrestling may have an opportunity for championships, but it may be some time before confirmations can be made in this regard.
At this time, spectators are prohibited from all indoor sporting events. Plans are in progress to have as many local events televised as possible. Although, with so many seasons and games happening at once, it is unlikely everything will be broadcast.
As for outdoor sports, cross country events will be closed to spectators and a decision pertaining to admittance of spectators for baseball has not yet been made.
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