After tentative deadlines released earlier in the semester, UNC club sports players are cautiously optimistic about officially returning to in-person practices with their respective teams.
Club sports teams were notified on Oct. 13 via email that the provost's office and the Roadmap Implementation Team approved club sports to begin practicing on campus on Oct. 19, with specific safety guidelines. Club sports officers said earlier in the semester that their teams would be allowed to start practice, only for those statements to be retracted and practices to be canceled.
Women's club basketball treasurer, sophomore Jenny Drury, said her reaction to the news was met with skepticism.
“It’s just kind of been this rollercoaster,” Drury said. “At this point, there is no point in getting my hopes up because we could get an email next week saying there is another outbreak of cases and we have to stop practice.”
Co-presidents of the swim club, junior Ben Humphries and senior Laura Traugot, had similar reactions to the announcement on Oct. 13.
“When the start dates kept getting pushed back, we got an email from sports club saying concerns had been raised — and I thought it was over for us,” Traugot said.
Humphries added that he will not be sure practice is going to happen until his team is physically in the pool.
Drury also said the back-and-forth decisions about club practices, as well as some of the specific safety guidelines issued by the University, have made it hard for team practice plans to remain concrete.
Sports club officers were instructed via email that all practices should follow S.A.F.E. guidelines — which stands for social distancing, access to opportunities, follow policies and engage with caution. The email also instructed that practices should mostly consist of conditioning and individual skills development, as well as scrimmaging if social distancing can be met during the activity.
“Basketball is one of those things where you can’t get better until you’re truly out there competing, but we are looking forward to focusing on skills like ball handling and conditioning to improve while we can’t scrimmage,” Drury said. “But we are thankful that our health and our safety are being thought of and made a priority.”
Swimming, because of the nature of the sport, is in a unique position when it comes to COVID-19 safety protocols.
“With swimming, we’re lucky," Humphries said. "We have the whole pool so we can spread out between lanes so it’s not a big issue when it comes to developing skill."
One of the things Humphries said his team misses the most is their time spent together as a community.
“What’s bringing us down right now is that fact that we can’t really see each other,” Humphries said. “Normally we’d all be gathering and getting lunch with each other and socializing, but it's just doing your sets and going home now.”
Drury also said the lack of community is something her team has missed after not meeting for so long.
“I do think it’s good for all the girls’ mental health for us all to get back together, because we’re living in a time right now when a sense of community feels lost, and for a lot of these girls, the basketball team is something they look forward to,” Drury said. “I’m really hoping that being able to do something with them, even once or twice a week, will help everyone look forward to something for the first time in a while.”
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