Otterbein athletes are currently training on campus for a season that is of uncertainty amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a three-step phase approach proposed by the NCAA, the women’s soccer team is in the first phase. That phase does not allow more than 10 athletes to train at the same time and requires meetings to be virtually done online.
Before the soccer team can move onto phase two, 14 days will have to pass by with no COVID-19 cases and flu-like illnesses in the school's surrounding areas.
As compared to a Division I school, Otterbein cannot afford to test athletes for COVID-19 multiple times a week. To slow the spread, but still be able to train, athletes are required to wear facial coverings, practice proper hygiene and practice social distancing.
“In exchange for the cost of testing, we are wearing masks,” said Brandon Koons, head coach of Otterbein women’s soccer. “We’ve had one [practice] already and people weren’t very happy about it, but we got through it and we’ve decided it is what it is.”
“It is definitely tougher wearing a mask during physical activity,” said Alaina Reher, junior on the women’s soccer team. “There are some instances after a series of sprints that you start to notice the presence of the mask and how it makes it a little tougher to catch your breath.”
Now that all students arrived back on campus for in-person classes, the football team began with phase one of the three-step approach on September 21.
Even without being in the middle of a pandemic, it is tough for Otterbein’s athletic teams to train with only one weight room and indoor field house. COVID-19 makes it even more difficult to train safely.
“With nobody competing right now for games, obviously there are challenges of scheduling the weight room,” said head football coach Tim Doup. “Everybody is trying to get in the weight room, so we had to sit down as coaches and everybody had to schedule their times.”
Before training, all football players and coaches will have to sit through a COVID-19 seminar. When training starts, the rules of wearing facial coverings will be enforced the entire time athletes are in the weight room or on the field.
“Obviously running around with a mask on isn’t going to be easy, but I think our guys are willing to do it and do whatever it takes to get back on the football field.” Doup said.
Otterbein’s student-athletes are poised to make a return to the field and are willing to do anything to get there.
“The team is very motivated to get back on the field,” said junior linebacker Jalen Perry. “We’ll do whatever it takes to get back on the field. We are seeing other colleges play and it has us itching to get back on the field and play the game we love.”
“We are super motivated to get back on the field and stay on the field,” Reher said, “We are choosing to make the small sacrifices like wearing a mask off the field, limiting our social interactions with people outside our bubbles, washing our hands, social-distancing, etc. to keep ourselves and our teammates healthy.”