(Pictured left to right) Sophomore setter Isabel Zelaya, junior runner and Sports Editor Karl Winter, senior center Coleman Carpenter, senior midfielder Joelle Anderson and sophomore runner Skyler Danley. Graphic by Ali Levens
The Athletics Department’s plan to bring student-athletes back to campus safely continues to move forward as on-campus student-athletes enter Phase II of Pepperdine’s four-stage plan.
Off-campus student-athletes will begin COVID-19 testing, physicals and antibody tests to enter Phase I. Kevin Wright, the assistant director of Athletics for Sports Medicine, and his staff are leading these efforts.
“We have had to tackle ongoing changes from the University and the LA County Department of Health,” Wright said. “Our team physician, Dr. Gary Green, who is the medical director for Major League Baseball, has been a good source, and we are breaking new ground because we have never done this before.”
The plan is outlined into four different phases. Each are a couple of weeks long as student-athletes gradually return to practice and training.
Steve Potts, director of Athletics, was also heavily involved in the plan to bring back student-athletes safely to campus this fall.
“We put together our plan and distributed it to our student-athletes on campus,” Potts said. “I think we put together a great plan, and I am thankful to Kevin Wright and his staff to create the healthiest and safest environment.”
The expectations for the on-campus student-athletes are the same for those who are living off campus. Those who are living off campus are told by the Athletics department to practice the guidelines the University and by LA County Department of Public Health has put in place.
“If this thing is going to work, then it’s not just following the rules on campus, but making sure you follow them when you are off campus as well,” Potts said.
Many student-athletes have had different levels of training this summer in regards to intensity, time and resources. The plan will allow not just a safe return to practice and training to prevent COVID-19 but also a safe return regarding injury prevention.
“We do not want to bring everyone back and put too much stress on the bodies and they break down,” Wright said. “Part of the reason for this Phase I is to reintroduce strength work so that the athletes are stressed appropriately and are gaining strength and conditioning at the appropriate level.”
Those student-athletes who are living on campus are living under strict rules and guidelines to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and reside in apartment-style living arrangements.
There is also a daily wellness check to indicate if you have any symptoms or a fever, and temperatures are taken daily.
The population of students who are living on campus is small, and many of them are student-athletes. Those living on campus had to adjust to this new lifestyle.
Tia Harrison, a freshman on the Women’s Soccer team, moved onto campus last week.
“It’s definitely an adjustment and most people on campus are student-athletes,” Harrison said. “We have been hanging out in areas like the lounge or outside playing. It is tight right now but I look forward to meeting other people.”
Masks are to be worn everywhere on campus except a student’s dorm, and no one is allowed to go into other people’s rooms.
Tay Thomas, a freshman on the Swim and Dive team, moved onto campus in August and has been able to start a more focused training program with the athletic training staff.
“I’ve never done weights before, and I am ready to go,” Thomas said. “It’s nice to see my teammates, trainers and coaches even if it’s with social distancing.”
Despite the restrictions for those living on campus, student-athletes are in support of Pepperdine’s protocols and guidelines.
“All of the regulations are important, and I feel they have done a good job of enforcing it and keeping everyone safe,” Harrison said.
The NCAA Board of Governors has approved a proposal to move the 2020 fall championships to the spring of 2021. This includes men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, soccer and water polo.
It also agreed to support flexibility to allow teams to meet specified minimum competition requirements due to the NCAA, recommending a reduction of competition by 50%.
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