This summer, the Great Plains Athletic Conference released a statement that gave great joy to college athletes who play fall sports: they would go on.
It came with a caveat that the GPAC will continue to closely monitor and adjust as necessary to protect the health and safety of all involved in GPAC athletics.
With this announcement, though, sports were able to move forward with their seasons. There have been some protocols that each team must follow.
Coming into the first week, all athletes had to take a COVID test before any practices were able to begin. Once tested, there was a daily screening they are required to do before every practice and games.
The screening includes, completing a symptom and contact tracing checklist, and ending with a temperature check.
If they’re having syptoms, athletes are sent to their dorms to quarantine and get another COVID test. If tested negative, athletes are clear to continue their practices and classes, but if they test positive, team contact tracing will begin.
The coaches and positive athletes have to look back and see who they have been in close contact with. This can lead to anywhere from a couple players to the whole team needing to quarantine.
This poses the question: what happens if games are postponed because of teams or opponents quarantining?
“If it’s a GPAC game, we work with the other school to try and reschedule the game for another time,” athletic director Dr. Micah Parker said. “If it’s non-conference, the contest has usually been canceled or put off until next year.”
The teams try and reschedule their games as soon as possible, but sometimes that isn’t always the case.
“We have had one game canceled this fall due to a COVID outbreak, “head football coach Matthew McCarty said. “Instead of playing Jamestown on Sept. 26, we now get to play on Nov. 28.”
There are also different parameters set in place to determine eligibility.
“The conference has set up minimums for each sport in order to be considered to compete in the conference tournament, which have all been moved to the spring of 2021, dates to be determined,” Parker said.
This is not the ideal way to have a season, but Northwestern is doing all they can do in these uncertain times.
With all the cancelations, teams have longer weeks to be at practice.
“We tried to keep as normal of a schedule as possible during our week off but spent more time on our younger players,” McCarty said. “It has been a different season, but our team has done a very good job of focusing energy on what they can control and not worrying about things that they can’t.”