Sports at Pierce College made a return to campus on Feb. 1 with new practice restrictions and safety protocol for coaches, staff, athletes and fans. Due to the pandemic, the regular schedule for college sports was postponed.
Accordingly, the volleyball, soccer, basketball, softball and baseball teams are scheduled to begin their season in February and end in May. The Pierce cross country team’s season will be five weeks long, starting in February and ending in March in order to allow the runners to also participate in the track season.
“It’s a little stressing,” said Jordan Dowd, defensive outside back for the men’s soccer team, “usually we have two to three months to prepare before our games and now we’re kinda rushing into three weeks.”
Prior to coming onto campus, each student-athlete has to fill out a health screening form and a school employee verifies its completion at the door. Coaches and staff are conducting temperature checks and logging the information collected. The building and equipment are sanitized before and after every practice and hand sanitizer is provided throughout the gym or field.
Additionally, there was a 14-day quarantine period for students returning from the holiday break. Following this, there were two weeks of the red phase, which consists of the team practicing with masks in the same, small groups. The teams then progress into the yellow zone which incorporates 10 to 15 minute intervals of team drills. When they aren’t doing drills, all participants will practice social distancing and mandatory testing will be conducted every two weeks.
“It’s gonna be up to a lot of responsibility on the student-athletes part to have the understanding that this isn’t a normal year,” said Brian Kovacevich, the head coach for the men’s basketball team, “if you want an opportunity to participate on the field or the court, you just have to make some sacrifices.”
Consequently, if there’s a COVID-19 outbreak on one of the teams, that sports team will be shut down and the team will isolate. They will follow all of the protocols given by Gov. Jay Inslee and the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department by administering contact tracing as well as mandatory testing for everyone on the team. Audiences are not permitted to attend games in order to limit the risk of exposure for players and coaches. Every game will be live-streamed for family and fans on the school’s YouTube page.
“They’re just ready to go, they understand that we’re gonna take all of the safety precautions necessary but they just wanna play,” said Greg Finel, the women’s head volleyball coach.
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