By Brianna Lopez and Sandra Pajovic
At the end of the Spring 2019 semester, Barry athletes had their worlds turned upside down when the university decided to cancel sports for the remainder of the semester due to the threat of the Coronavirus. Seniors lost their final season, freshmen lost their first, and overall, athletes were ripped from the one thing that had consumed their schedules every day prior — their sports.
Since the start of the pandemic, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has worked on creating policies that would guide the fall 2020 sports season, allowing athletes to participate while protecting themselves, their teammates, and their communities.
While the NCAA did not prohibit any sports from being played, they published a set of guidelines for teams to follow, most recently updated on Aug. 14.
The guidelines include strategies for testing and training and practice requirements. The NCAA recommends that athletes perform daily self-checks, wear face masks during all practices, games, and conditioning sessions, implementing 14-day quarantines for any athlete that has experienced a high-risk exposure, and following basic social distancing, hand sanitizing and coughing and sneezing etiquette.
To supplement these guidelines, Barry has implemented a system of daily temperature checks. Athletes are required to get their temperature checked and recorded each day between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m.
After being checked, the athlete is given a bracelet indicating that they completed this requirement. To prevent athletes from falsifying their attendance, they are given different color bracelets each day.
Barry has also implemented outdoor training facilities, per the NCAA’s suggestion. A tent has been set up beside the baseball field where teams can be seen doing conditioning practices. In addition, Barry has postponed fall sport league games, including basketball and volleyball. These teams still meet for practices and workouts, but their competitive games have been delayed.
While there is mixed information spreading about which schools or divisions can continue their sports programs, Barry Director of Athletic Communications Dennis Jezek Jr., said that “all NCAA schools do follow the same protocols. But some schools cannot afford the rather rigorous safety precautions that have been set.”
Some colleges and universities are therefore approaching their sports seasons differently based on what resources and safety equipment they can afford to supply to athletes.
Based on Barry’s facilities and resources, most sports programs have continued regular practice and conditioning schedules.
Andrew Rapoza, a senior baseball player at Barry, says his baseball practices occur on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, with lift and conditioning practices twice a week.
“Practices with masks are definitely different and annoying at some points but we must do what is asked and what is best for everyone's safety,” said Rapoza, adding that he tries to stay positive and make the most of what the athletes are permitted to do.
On the other hand, Mirko Ronchi, a senior men’s soccer player, notes the discomfort of following safety guidelines in the Miami heat.
“Working out with masks on the field in Miami I think is nearly impossible because when a person starts to sweat with a mask on, it is almost impossible to breathe,” said Ronchi.
Despite these difficulties, both Ronchi and Rapoza have a positive outlook for the remainder of the season.
“My expectations are extremely high for next season. We have great talent and a great group of kids, some from last year and a lot of new players,” said Rapoza.
The NCAA encourages athletes to stay on top of their protocols and continue to take proper precautions on and off the field to ensure the safety of themselves and their teammates and to avoid the potential cancellation of their seasons.