Despite cancellation of sports competitions due to the coronavirus pandemic, University of Dallas teams continue to practice this fall, albeit under abnormal circumstances.
On July 16, the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) announced the cancellation of all sports competitions for the 2020 fall semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the SCAC news website.
“Not unlike the decision we had to make this past spring, today’s decision was difficult and not taken lightly,” said SCAC Commissioner Dwayne Hanberry. “At the very least, it is extremely frustrating to be forced to continue the suspension of competition this fall.”
Volleyball, cross country and soccer will not engage in competition (conference or non-conference) during the fall season. Golf and tennis, which use the fall exclusively for non-conference competition, will also refrain from competing this fall. However, teams are encouraged to conduct conditioning, strength training and other practice opportunities, provided they are done so safely.
All previously mentioned fall sports competitions have been moved to the spring, meaning that all UD sports teams will be participating in conference and non-conference competitions in the spring.
This situation leaves coaches at a crossroads. Usually teams are allowed 19 total weeks of practice that they can distribute across the school year to fit best with their respective competition calendars. This year, the NCAA changed the limit to 119 days of practice for the coaches to distribute as they consider optimal.
Even though UD is allowing all sports teams to practice this fall, coaches might still opt to save their practice days for the spring, when competition will be taking place.
“We’re certainly not going to practice as much as we usually do, the burden will fall on our players to do some more stuff on their own” said Golf Coach Garrett Smith “With lack of competition in the fall, added with the fact that there’s not as many people here with some of our players staying home for the semester, we won’t utilize as much time but we will still practice sporadically throughout the fall.”
When asked about their plan for this semester, basketball Coach Jarred Samples had a similar attitude.
“We’re not allowed to start practicing officially until October 1, but we obviously want to use our practice days around our games as best as we can.” But many of the players in the basketball team are already taking the initiative to gather and play together, honing their skills in the practice down time.
“The courts are open for any student that wants to use them,” said Samples.
But even as teams carry on with practice, they expect practice to not look the same as in other years. Health and sanitation measures will be enforced for all official team practices. Locker rooms will be closed, forcing players to show up already dressed for practice, sports equipment that’s shared, such as basketballs, will be sanitized before each practice and players will be required to report to the training room for a temperature check and health questionnaire.
“It’s a small price to pay given the alternatives,” added Smith.
As disappointing as it is for athletes to have fall competitions canceled, there is still a sense of optimism and motivation for teams to improve heading into the spring semester.
“At the end of the day, competition or not, you’re still trying to improve as much as you can,” said Smith, reflecting the ethos of all of the teams affected by these unprecedented circumstances.