By: Mitch Nielsen
Spring and some fall sports are all playing at the same time during the Spring 2021 semester at the University of Findlay
Spring 2021 has been hectic for the University of Findlay Athletic Department. With COVID-19 ruining the regular schedule for fall teams and some of the winter athletics, almost all sports teams will be playing in the spring.
Kyle Niermann, Director of Athletic Communications, says the spring season will be unlike anything he’s ever seen.
“Between baseball, softball, men’s and women’s soccer, outdoor track and field, lacrosse, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis, swimming and diving national championship, volleyball conference tournament, wrestling nationals, indoor track, and field nationals, and football all taking place in the next three months, and mostly on weekends,” he said. “There’s no shortage of things to do.”
Freshman Running Back on the football team, Garret Clark, says the field will be crowded. “This spring will be a lot different, the teams playing in the spring are going to have to rebound after the season to get ready for next fall,” he said. “Most teams are off right now working in the offseason for fall, and we are working for the spring.”
Coaches now have to prepare for two seasons in one calendar year, opposed to one season in one year. The athlete’s bodies are going to have to be in top shape, only having a few months of rest in-between seasons.
“It will be challenging to get our bodies back to peak performance after a season, four months before the next season,” Clark said.
The athletic training staff is not only dealing with those student-athletes getting back in shape but following both the NCAA and the University COVID-19 protocols.
Fiona Hanks, UF head athletic trainer, says it’s a selective process determining how to best manage in the time of COVID.
“The entire basketball team gets tested weekly, the football and baseball team get 25% of the team tested weekly,” she said. “Golf and tennis are a minimal risk sport, meaning that they only get tested if someone’s symptomatic.”
Hanks says if a player has been contact traced, they will be out of action for 10 days – the first day starts with their last contact with the infected person. An infected person goes into isolation for 10 days from the first symptom.
“Depending on symptoms, depends if they have to get an EKG, echocardiogram. All athletes, EKG or not, have to be evaluated by the team physician, then start a gradual return to their sport, where physical stress is increased, to make sure the heart can tolerate what they need to do,” said Hanks.
According to Hanks, COVID-19 causes myocarditis. Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle, which reduces the heart’s ability to pump. Signs and symptoms include chest pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, and arrhythmias, says the Mayo Clinic. UF athletes have to go through a step-by-step process to make sure no one suffers from this inflammation, she says.
But still, busy athletic teams means a busy athletic department.
“This is going to be the busiest spring I have encountered in my time at Findlay. Looking at the schedule, it’s everything we normally have in the spring year plus all of our fall sports that were shifted to the spring,” Niermann said.
After 500 days since the last time of stepping on the field, the football team is finally three days away from kickoff on their home field against Walsh. Other teams are also underway, having begun in early March.
The number of tickets and the max capacity of fans differs from state to state and university to university. All games will be live streamed by UFTV and recordings can be accessed on their YouTube page.
Featured photo courtesy of Anthony Lupi (Hillsdale College).