New Athletic Practice Procedures
Fall athletics at Beloit have been getting into the swing of things, and athletes have been having a ball getting to know their new teammates. This year, however, athletes have been adjusting to the new practice procedures and changes to their seasons due to COVID-19 regulations. The Midwest Conference, along with other Division III NCAA conferences, have decided to suspend all league competition through December 31st, leaving fall sports without a season entirely. Some fall sports are hoping for games in the spring, but no one knows for sure what will happen.
Even without games, the Buccaneers have been working hard during practices, and making sure they comply with all regulations set forth. These include working in small groups of no more than ten athletes, and wearing a mask for the duration of practice. These regulations are difficult to get used to— specifically, the masks.
Many athletes have been struggling with wearing masks through practices, and it is especially difficult on athletes who have asthma. As one could imagine, wearing a mask while playing a sport is not ideal. One basketball player said it was a lot more difficult to run with the masks on, and it feels suffocating. Softball players have also reported similar feelings, one player in particular saying when she breathes, the mask “feels like it’s going into my nose and mouth, and it definitely makes running more difficult and recovery time longer.”
Teams have also found it difficult working in smaller groups. With groups of ten, it is difficult to work drills that involve many people, or plays that include the whole team. And with social distancing, close contact sports like football and basketball are finding it harder to work and refine the skills they really need.
Some players, however, have found a few silver linings with the new practice procedures. Smaller groups mean players get more reps in. It also means more individualized instruction, and more one-on-one time with coaches. Smaller groups also help new players to get to know their teammates better, and players can commiserate and bond through the shared struggle.
While these requirements make it harder to practice, athletes are forced to think about the alternative: no practice at all. Buccaneers are willing to do what it takes to stay on the field and with their teammates, and they know if they fail to wear masks or socially distance, they will lose more than just games. Players are motivated to follow regulations because if they don’t, practices, training, and team experiences would be put on hold. Freshman softball player, Amanda Langford, put it simply: “It sucks, but we’ll do anything to get back on the field. We’re willing to do it because we love the sport so much. We don’t want another season taken away.”