SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va., – When training and competition came to a screeching halt in the middle of March due to COVID-19, college athletic programs were left questioning what was happening next. Fast forward to mid-July, Shepherd University and the 17 other institutions in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) received news that the fall 2020 season had been suspended.
When school began, the athletes at Shepherd were not practicing but transitioning into the world of online school and hybrid classes, while the athletic facilities planned for their return.
Chauncey Winbush, vice president for athletics, said, “Our initial phases of activities allowed for pods of 12. If your field space was large enough, you could have several pods of 12 on the field if socially distanced.”
Athletes also are wearing masks, sanitizing equipment, and maintaining social distance. However, they were not being tested regularly for COVID-19.
Instead athletes are grouped in with the 250 students and faculty that are selected at random weekly for the tests implemented by the University.
Winbush also said that the COVID-19 case count did not change the length of the phases but rather, “used that information to validate our ability to progress through the next phase of the resocialization
Athletes are currently practicing in pods of 24, but started in pods of 12. They will soon graduate to pods of 50. Most teams will be able to have a full team practice by this point.
Winbush said that they designed the phases with the idea that most athletes have not had the opportunity to train regularly within the past 4-5 months. “We wanted to be very cautious.”
2021 seems be the year of hope when it comes to competition.
“We are very hopeful that basketball will have a season starting in January of 2021. I am hopeful a small amount of people will be able to attend in support of our programs,” said Winbush.
“It is the goal of the PSAC to have all sports participate in the spring,” said Winbush.