Virginia Wesleyan has followed the lead of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference and has postponed the beginning of the fall and winter sports seasons. There will be no athletic competition for fall and winter teams until 2021. Under the guidelines set by the CDC and Virginia Wesleyan, there are teams that are allowed to have organized practices to begin this school year in preparation for games in the new year.
There hasn’t been organized activity for teams here on campus since early March. Each respective team has been given the guidelines that they must follow for the fall semester, which include wearing a mask if within six feet of each other. Currently, there are phases that each team must go through to begin their season. As the phases increase, the number of practices a team can have a week decreases and the number of players in a group and length of the practice goes up. Every phase will be two weeks long.
When spring sports were cancelled in March, all athletes were given an extra year of eligibility. With what is now an even crazier fall season, there is a 50/50 rule. If less than 50% of the games are played during the upcoming season then every fall athlete will be given an extra year of eligibility. Most senior student-athletes from this past spring season have declined to take an extra season. The few that have elected to stay an extra year are pursuing master’s degrees.
Each team has to handle training differently through this pandemic. Jeff Bowers, the associate director of Intercollegiate Athletics and head women’s soccer coach talked about how the training for his team has been affected during COVID-19. “Our first two weeks have been very individualized. We are actually going to use the first two weeks to be more individual personal fitness workouts,” Bowers said. He mentioned that the goal for this season is an ODAC title, and that this team is talented up and down the roster from the 13 freshmen to the 10 seniors. The 2019 women’s soccer team made it all the way to the ODAC championship.
Bowers stressed that the athletic director and coaches have been meeting every week for months to give the players the season that they deserve to have. If all goes to according to plan, the spring semester is going to be one of the most hectic seasons Virginia Wesleyan has ever had. Athletic Director Joanne Renn mentioned there is a possibility of games being played nearly every day of the week. With the current restrictions and guidelines on campus, Renn said, “no fans as of now,” As the future does look a little grim with COVID-19 suspending play until Jan. 1, there is hope for the spring to have games played with fans in attendance.