While new freshmen are getting settled on campus, there are new strict guidelines set in place for a healthy and safe environment for our athletes to stay in.
Blackburn implemented specific guidelines for athletic practices. In order to get to the point that a whole team can practice together, a team must go through a three-phase protocol. The first phase: the team must be no bigger than ten people in one group practicing at one time. Everyone has to stay six feet away from each other, and face masks are to be worn unless aerobic exercises are being done. The second phase: Players are allowed to share balls, still practice with only ten people in one group, and required to wear face masks unless aerobic exercises are being done. The third phase: Players are allowed to practice together with the full team, face masks are still being worn, players are allowed to scrimmage, and basically function like a practice would before COVID happened.
Athletes across the country have been deeply impacted by these new protocols, not just athletes here at Blackburn. If the phases are violated, the team could be suspended from practicing or gathering as a team.
This year, most of the sports that were scheduled to be played in the fall have moved to a new modified spring season. The new spring season runs from February of 2021 to April of 2021. Now, all sports are taking place during the spring semester. The spring season will only include conference matches, and there will be a limited amount of distance travelling.
This has been hard on some athletes. Soccer players still have hope for this season despite its challenges. Freshman Hayden Reese said, “It’s tough having to come from one cancelled season to another cancelled season, but we’re trying to make the most out of it. I see it as an extra few months to practice and become better before we show everyone our true talent.” Freshman Luke Atkinson added, “I think we’re going to have an even better season in the spring than a season we would have in the fall due to more practice time. I truly think we are going to have conference titles in the books this year.” Freshman Niv Vaughn said, “It sucks that we have to play during a pandemic but we’re going to come out even stronger than anticipated.”