COVID-19: A director’s experience

Denise Udelhofen (TheLorian)

Do you think you will have any athletic events this year? Since last March I have had that question many, many times from all sorts of people when the topic of COVID-19 comes up. Honestly, I wish I could give someone a definitive answer however, we all know when it comes to the pandemic that has not proven easy. When dealing with COVID-19 as a Director of Athletics my first and foremost thought is how do we do train, practice, and compete while keeping all student-athletes and staff safe. Our athletic staff has had too many zoom meetings to count to discuss and put protocols into place. Has it been perfect – no – but the intent is always to utilize the information we have at the current time to make the best decision at that particular time.

At the beginning of August, the NCAA Sport Science Institute released Resocialization of Collegiate Sports: Developing Standards for Practice and Competition. This document has been updated three times with another update coming soon. These guidelines have provided NCAA members tools to assist with efforts to provide a healthy and safe environment for those participating in athletics. Most of the document revolves around testing, screening, masking, quarantines, and social distancing to be able to have any athletically related activities. Add to this the guidelines from CDC and local and state organizations.

There are a few COVID-19 Response committees including our own Loras committee and American Rivers Conference. As a member of the the NCAA DIII Management Council when we meet COVID-19 is always on the agenda.  These committees reference all the previously mentioned documents to work through each situation as each sport is different. NCAA has categorized sports in to high, medium, and low risk. These designations determine what actions need to be taken to practice and play those sports safely.

Due to the collaboration of many people from American Rivers Conference and Loras College who have put countless hours in to trying to provide a meaningful experience for our student athletes. Without question we all want to play but not at the expense of the health and safety of our student athletes and staff. Chris Kamm, our Head Athletic Trainer with his staff, have worked closely with Tammy Marti and Katie Vogt from our Health Center to lead our department through this challenge. They have been phenomenal, and I am not sure we will ever be able to thank them enough!   

Everyone is dealing with something in these trying and frustrating times.  In the athletic department and across Loras campus I can say with confidence we are all collaborating to make the best of a difficult situation.  Be patient and Be Kind!  

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