“It was really jarring when it just ended like that,” Rios said. "We all just got told essentially ‘No more. Sorry.’ But there wasn’t really much that we could do.”
Junior Yang Chen, another trainer for Carolina Boxing, was ready to compete with one of his teammates at the NCBA MW Regional Tournament in Cincinnati, Ohio, back in March, before the National Collegiate Boxing Association canceled the event.
“We were both looking forward to actually getting to compete at regionals,” Chen said. “This was our first time being on the team and we really wanted to dip our toes and figure out what that’s like. We were just left empty-handed.”
While waiting for a safe return to boxing, Chen has remained eager to work with the club’s members.
“I think my favorite thing about the club was getting to see how people who are completely new exercise, seeing them push themselves and helping them guide their priorities,” Chen said. “Helping them figure out what they want out of it and seeing them progress from there.”
With boxing being such a high-contact sport, Rios has been working with Cloney to take the proper precautions and safely restart the club in the fall.
"We have a shared Google Doc. We’ve made essentially a flow chart that details everything," Rios said. "We’re trying to be as open and communicative as we can with our members so hopefully they understand where we’re going and what we do with every eventuality.”
Rios also stressed the importance of the club having to be adaptable to the evolving COVID-19 news and updates.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” Rios said. “They said there might be a second wave. We don't know when the vaccine will come out. A lot of unknowns.”
“I am fully expecting a curveball to be thrown and it not be one of the options we planned for, because that’s just how life goes,” Cloney added.
In response to that possibility, Carolina Boxing is creating a hybrid format for training sessions. The objective is for trainers to lead drills in the Eddie Smith Field House, where the club normally practices.
Additionally, some groups of four or five members would meet in person. Cloney and the trainers are still figuring out the best way to execute that plan.
Gloves and mitts will not be used during practices until the University returns to normal operations and the club is authorized to do so.
“Our primary goal, obviously, is safety,” Cloney said. “In both the sport and also with COVID. Everything we do and move forward with is keeping that in mind. Our members and our safety is the most important thing.”
Recruitment has been vital for the club’s success, as it plans to make a promotional video this year in lieu of having a Fall Fest booth. And a continuous stream of new members interested in joining the team is one of the primary ways to make sure Carolina boxing doesn't regress during these challenging times.
“It’s always important to recruit,” Cloney said. “Especially in college where you can only have people for four years anyway. We’re also focusing on retention rates as well this upcoming year.”
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