On Aug. 5, 2020, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) voted to cancel all Division III athletic championships for the fall season due to public health concerns surrounding COVID-19. Because of the high probability of close physical contact between athletes and athletic staff, fall sports tournaments across the United States were deemed “high risk” and largely postponed or canceled nationwide.
With Stevenson University’s fall sports competitions moving to spring 2021, “preparation” following such a prolonged competition hiatus has become an unexpected, new obstacle. Stevenson’s Head Strength & Conditioning Coach MC McFadden spoke to The Villager about how the university addresses these changes head-on and maintains safety protocols in the preparation process.
For starters, McFadden said that fall and spring athletes alike must return negative COVID-19 test results regularly prior to working out and resuming sports activities on campus. As far as the gym’s physical set-up is concerned, McFadden and her staff installed 12 new weight racks spaced apart along the Mustang Stadium concourse. This spacing allows for half a team to be physically distanced inside the regular weight room. The other half work out while safely distanced from one another on the outdoor concourse.
McFadden explained how the Stevenson Men’s Soccer team, specifically, which consists of 40 players, would operate moving forward. She noted that each athlete would be given an assigned partner and weight rack per session to limit equipment sharing. These assignments will not change, and all athletes will be required to wear properly fitted face masks, McFadden explained. Keeping the weight room equipment up to par requires continuous sanitation throughout the day, and especially after being used by one athlete and before usage by the next.
McFadden admitted that she has never had to deal with such rearrangement and shift of operation in her 26 years at Stevenson. However, she is hopeful in her assumption that “there’s going to be games in the spring [and] lots of them.” McFadden added that she’s grateful to be working with Stevenson athletes again.