14 Sep Sonoma State’s sports teams stay COVID-19 safe — Sonoma State Star
Until this year, none of Sonoma State’s sports teams had been authorized to play since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With several reported positive cases of COVID-19 among professional sports teams, one might wonder exactly how safe is it for the university’s student-athletes to play this school year?
In March of 2020, the CCAA (California Collegiate Athletic Association) made a statement that they were suspending all athletic activities indefinitely. Several teams settled on holding their practices and trainings over Zoom until the CCAA announced in May that college sports teams were approved to compete in the 2021-22 school year. However, SSU’s golf team was granted the approval to play their last season.
In order to play, several precautions have been put into place to keep athletes, coaches, trainers and other department faculty safe. The athletics department’s biggest strategy in keeping infection rates down among student-athletes is encouraging everyone to get vaccinated.
Currently, the athletics department has a vaccine rate of 80 percent. Those athletes that are exempt from receiving the COVID-19 vaccination are required to test negatively twice a week and they must wear N95 masks while in an enclosed space with their teammates.
Additionally, the COVID protocols are based on recommendations from the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) and the CCAA so all of the Seawolves’ opposing teams will have taken the same precautions before competing.
Jared Chasey, the Deputy Director of Intercollegiate Athletics said, “Our department has seen a very small number of cases among both student-athletes and employees… That is a testament to the diligence of everyone involved and their adherence to the various risk mitigation strategies in place”.
These risk mitigation strategies include having to show a clear daily wellness screening upon using the weight room and before practices, a negative test result before traveling and games, limiting exposure to others outside of the team and roommates, wearing a mask while not physically active (with the exception of the weight room) and more.
Keeping safe during games and practices in the time of COVID is not the sole responsibility of our student-athletes. Coaches, trainers and other staff members have been doing a great job at enforcing safety protocols. All faculty are encouraged to be vaccinated and are required to wear masks during practices and training sessions, they have been persistent in cleaning equipment and keeping their exposure to people outside the athletic department to a minimum.
Cléo Kennedy, a transfer second year on the women’s soccer team said, “I’m really proud of everything that’s been happening. I know my coaches are really diligent about making sure their exposures are really low and they wear masks the whole time during practice”.
With these COVID protocols set in place, some changes had to be made in regards to the way that certain sports are played. Being an inside sport, the women’s volleyball team has had to slightly adjust some aspects of the game that they were used to.
Since the start of the season on Sept. 3, there have already been several occasions where outside spectators were not allowed to watch the matches from the stands. Jessie Hobbs, a fourth year and middle blocker for the women’s volleyball team said, “We also are not allowed to make physical contact with our opponents so we now wave to the other teams rather than high fiving before and after matches.”
Despite the adjustments teams have had to make in order to keep games and practices safe, the athletes are excited to be back out there practicing with their teammates, competing and making SSU proud. Kennedy said, “Although [our games] happen to be outside, please keep wearing masks. It makes events like this still possible when everyones doing their part.”
To see a complete schedule of the Fall sports games, go to https://sonomaseawolves.com/calendar.
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