With the ongoing pandemic, practice and competition within school athletics has proven to be more difficult. The SUNY Plattsburgh track & field team is one of multiple athletic programs affected by current regulations set in place due to COVID-19. The New York State Department of Health allows college athletics to take place, though there are new rules.
Practices are on limited days and the athletes are only able to practice with their event group. This means that the long distance runners do not practice with the sprinters or throwers, which leads to less interaction among the athletes. Practices also have an hour and a half time limit to ensure there is no overlap with other teams. Team bonding activities have been harder for the athletes on the team to complete because they cannot be altogether.
Despite these circumstances, the team members still run together, all wearing masks and being as distant as possible during practice. While running, members of the team are able to bond with other teammates by making conversation. Some of the members of the team live together, on and off campus.
The athletes were unsure if there would be a competitive season until there was a team meeting in early March to inform the runners there was a possibility they would compete. There have been tentative meets set in place, such as March 27, April 3 and May 1. There will tentatively be three or four meets at St. Lawrence University throughout the rest of the semester. A SUNYAC Championship meet is tentatively scheduled for early May. The championship meet will take place at SUNY Cortland.
“It was hard training when there was nothing scheduled, but now there is more hope because of races,” sophomore Josh Herman, a member of the distance team, said. “We just have to keep the cases down. I’ve been enjoying practices and I want them to keep happening.”
“I am feeling good,” freshman Michael Brockway said. “I look forward to running with my teammates.”
Brockway acknowledged that other schools have to keep their COVID-19 cases down as well, expressing concern and doubt that there will be a competitive season. Practices have still been conducted, but are different compared to last year. Before the COVID regulations were put into place, the athletes had access to a variety of weights and foam rollers. The team would practice together as well, and were encouraged to spend time together.
Senior and team captain Arthur Horan said that the team would already be having meets, if not for COVID-19.
“We would meet for practices six days a week, and we would meet with the whole team, not just specific event groups. We don’t see any throwers or sprinters now,” Horan said.
With COVID-19 measures in place, it has been harder for athletes to get a grasp on how the team dynamic would work without the precautionary measures. Horan also said the team used to have access to weights and other equipment. That is no longer the case due to the COVID protocols that the athletic department and college have set in place. The new concept for practices is to have as minimal contact as possible.
Despite the changes, the team is still looking forward to competing and having a competitive season underway. As long as cases stay low and the community stays smart and safe, the competitive season will be here shortly.
The athletes now have something to train for, allowing for practices to have more meaning to them. Track and field practices consist of a warm up, with the members of the team already separated in their event groups. Following the warm up, the captains lead dynamic stretches for the team to get ready for a workout the runners or throwers are doing that day. They are encouraged to run in as small a group as possible.