At Whatcom Community College, the athletic department is working hard through the pandemic to prepare for the upcoming sports season. Players and coaches are working closely together to remain competitive in the Northwest Athletic Conference while also keeping player safety a top priority. In an email to WCC Horizon, Head Women’s Soccer Coach Mary Schroeder described some of the issues of continuing to work through a global pandemic.
Schroeder explained how her team was “excited about the opportunity to get some practices in this fall” and described the parameters in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which includes athletes being allowed to train in group of up to 6 players, wearing masks and staying socially distanced unless they are participating in strenuous activity.
Coach Schroeder reiterates how she is “highly impressed with the way the players have adjusted quickly to new protocols while maintaining a positive attitude” and talks about the benefits to team chemistry of having the time to train as a team and letting athletes get to know each other.
As of right now, WCC Sports are scheduled to come back in January, with several changes. All athletes will be screened for symptoms of COVID-19, and no fans will be allowed at the games as part of the COVID-19 guidelines. For those who are interested in watching, there will be a chance to watch a livestream of games on the internet.
One group that is greatly affected by COVID-19 is students who are new to Whatcom Community College Athletics. They will enter the season with far less orientation and experience to their new programs then newcomers have gotten in previous years. When asked about the issue, Athletic Director Daniel Day made it clear that he was aware of the challenges of adjusting to a new program in a virtual environment and was committed to giving athletes access to all the resources required to be successful in this new and foreign environment.
As a result of the varying guidelines for health and safety between organizations, Whatcom Community College will not be playing out of conference opponents this season.
Currently, all scheduled opponents for the upcoming year will be within driving range, as per the new NWAC regulations which do not allow overnight trips in order to play opponents from farther away with the exception being for championship games. This change is to better protect the students on WCC sports teams from other conferences that may not follow the same rigorous COVID-19 guidelines that the NWAC follows.
When asked to comment on the topic, Athletic Director Daniel Day expressed how it was a “challenging time” and he applauded the effort being made by students and staff in adapting to the new guidelines. He went on to say he was ready to “make the best of the situation presented to us” and reiterated that every decision being made was with “health and safety as a top priority”
One concern that affected some students was that with the new schedule that has several sports seasons happening at once, how was this going to affect student’s ability to play more than one sport. When asked about how WCC was handling the issue, Athletic Director Daniel Day said during an interview with WCC Horizon that his goal was to “put the student first” and explained how he was working with students as well as their coaches to make sure that practices and eventually games do not have conflicting schedules as well as working with the student athlete to minimize burnout.
Overall, WCC Horizon Athletics has continued to work throughout the pandemic to figure out how to keep teams competitive and fun with a good mix of virtual and safe in person activities, as well as keeping student health and safety a top priority even while moving into full sports season in January.