Image courtesy of Elizabethtown College Athletics
By Claire Prudhomme
CUA Athletics, in cooperation with the Landmark Conference, has begun to introduce play for the 2021 athletic season. Catholic has been fortunate to play this season with many schools across the country shutting down their spring seasons. All fall, winter, and spring sports, excluding indoor track, will be participating in the upcoming season.
The surge of cases across the country in the late months of 2020 caused many students to fear that they would not be able to return to university once again, but student-athletes additionally feared that they would lose another season. CUA felt the need to push cautious normalcy for the benefit of student-athletes this season.
The Landmark Conference, which spans across several state lines, had to work amongst the five different schools in agreeing upon a firm set of standards. The athletic department at CUA had to find its way through a great deal of red tape coming from DC guidelines, Landmark Conference rules, and Catholic University restrictions to get to the place it is now. Catholic University’s athletic director Sean Sullivan spoke of the appreciation he had for the school to be so open in continuing sports at this time.
“We are being supported by the University at a really gracious level in the sense that there are many schools choosing not to do this. We are really fortunate that we have been given the opportunity to try,” said Sullivan. “I am very appreciative and I know our student-athletes are as well.”
The NCAA provides a pathway through which member schools can coordinate with external companies to set up the testing regimen. All costs of testing are ultimately up to the individual schools.
CUA requires that all coaches and students wear masks at the Dufour Center at all times, even during practice and games, and is mandating that all other CDC and NCAA guidelines are followed in the facility.
The athletic department has announced that after CUA’s acclimation period is over, the weight room in the DuFour Center will be open to athletes. Athletes will be allowed to sign up for 45-minute time slots and seven athletes will be allowed in at a time. After the 45 minutes is up, the weight room will be deep cleaned for the next round of students.
Practices have been focused on implementing social distancing and safety standards. All teams form separate groups of less than 10 people, called “pods,” who practice together, but socially distance during practice. This was done in order to limit exposure in the event of a positive COVID-19 case on a given team.
If an athlete tests positive, they are sent into isolation for ten days following the positive test. Contact tracing is then done across the team and if teammates are concluded to have been in close contact then they must isolate as well. Anyone who has tested positive for COVID must be cleared by a cardiologist and eased back into practice and play for the safety and health of the player.
Testing is following the implementation guidelines set by the NCAA. Based on each team’s level of contact, a certain number of players on each team is tested each week. Teams that have higher contact levels will be tested more frequently. Coaches and staff will also be tested weekly to ensure there has been no possible exposure to student-athletes. Teams out of season must-have players tested weekly for contact tracing purposes.
The Landmark conference is resuming play on Friday, February 5.