Springs sports looked different at the University of Maryland this spring. The spring student-athletes have had to endure daily COVID-19 testing, frequent cleaning of equipment, covid-safe travel and altered schedules.
The student-athletes must enter Xfinity Center and take the elevator up to the third floor. There, they receive their identification card, blow their noses and self-administer a daily antigen COVID-19 test. Then, they walk down the hall to take a seat and wait approximately 15 minutes for their results.
Before every practice and every game, spring student-athletes have to prove their negative results for COVID-19. As athletes, it’s counterintuitive to hope for a negative result. Typically athletes are wired to work and hope for a positive outcome, such as a win or a championship.
But, COVID-19 has flipped their switch.
That’s not the only thing COVID-19 has done this spring. COVID-19 has added tasks to their to-do lists. After any type of training - practice or lifting - the athletes have to wipe down their equipment.
From dumbbells to bats to lacrosse sticks, everything must be sanitized.
Then inside the weight room, it’s mandatory for the athletes to wear masks while lifting. In contrast, while practicing their sport outside athletes aren’t required to wear any face covering. But, because indoors is a higher risk for the spread of COVID-19, masks are an obligation.
To bolster the capabilities of contact tracing, spring sports adjusted their schedules. All Maryland spring teams limited or eliminated their out of conference schedules this year. Golf was the only spring sport where they were allowed to play outside of the conference.
To limit contact tracing on the golf team, the coach created pods of two to three players who do everything together, such as practice, go into the locker room, and to hang out with outside of practice. Laura Van Respaille, a senior on the golf team, said, “These pods were our own little bubbles.”
The softball team only played Big 10 teams, whereas the women’s lacrosse team only played the Baltimore school Johns Hopkins on their home field. Women’s golf only competed in seven invitational tournaments, including the Big 10 tournament.
Micaela Abbetine, a redshirt senior on the softball team, is disappointed about the shortened season. “It’s usually beneficial to play a non-conference slate to start off the season for many factors such as adjusting and getting comfortable before conference play … and getting the opportunity to travel the country!” Abbetine said.
Traveling amps up the anxiety of potentially getting COVID-19 because athletes leave their already established UMD athletics bubble. But, teams wear KN95 masks at all times while traveling - on the bus and plane. Plus, teams usually have dinner together but this year they have to eat individually in their respective rooms.
“Covid definitely impacted us and changed our habits but luckily we were able to play our sport,” said Lena Capoccia, a junior golf player.