KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — USA South Athletic Conference fall sports will have to wait until the spring to play following the decision made by the conference Tuesday due to coronavirus concerns.
Athletic director and head coach for Scots volleyball Kandis Schram says leaders in Maryville’s athletic department worked hard to make a fall season a possibility, but ultimately the conference’s decision to postpone fall sports until the spring was the right thing to do, unfortunately, she adds.
“There’s a sense of loss,” Schram says, “athletics is every part of our fiber and part of our identity but we’re all really kind of in that ‘take care of the kids mode.’ We are all checking on each other and making sure we don’t lose sight of the priorities and how important it is that we stay on track for graduation and we’ll have brighter days ahead we truly believe that if we stick together, we’re going to get through this.”
The spike in coronavirus cases and testing were two major factors played into the decision made by USA South.
Schram says accessing the tests recommended in a short amount of time was going to be very challenging for all member institutions. For Maryville College, Schram adds that ethics was a big part of their conversations, and that leaders in athletics did not feel comfortable “tying up” tests from people that really need them.
“Yes, it’s expensive but outside the cost is, ‘do we really feel good about that?'” explains the AD, “and I’m proud to say we didn’t.”
She believes that testing will become more readily available and easier to access, and when it does they will be right there and ready to respond.
Maryville college football head coach Shaun Hayes gives credit to Maryville Athletics leaders for putting their student-athletes’ safety and health first, and says overall the decision to postpone their season was the right one.
“We always say in our program, ‘the way you think is the way you feel; the way you feel is the way you act,'” says Hayes, ” So we must be able to handle this in a positive mindset and rely on each other.”
Even though the fall sports season will not kick-off as planned, there is a silver lining: more time to prepare and practice.
Both teams missed out on practicing in the spring, so the added time makes up for the time they missed. Along with more time for their teams to bond and form chemistry while they integrate new team members.
“We will start practice at the end of August and really get to know each other,” Schram explains, “take it slow but we will be playing volleyball for sure.”
Hayes says he is going to use the extra time to focus on growing his team together as a unit, making and creating a brotherhood fueled by competition and accountability that will carry them through a season when they play one.
Hayes elaborates on his plan saying, “We’ll focus on at this time and blend that within the rules and guidelines the NCAA has allowed, along with schematics.”
Hayes also instills in his guys that they have to do their part in battling the pandemic by wearing a mask, social distancing and following other health and safety guidelines laid out by the CDC and local health officials.
Maryville College student-athletes will gradually move back to campus starting on Aug. 6.
Safety precautions will be in place including daily temperature checks, “intense sanitation,” mandating masks, no contact in practice, starting off in small groups and expanding, to name a few.
Schram says they are going to do everything they can to be as safe as possible while providing a “normal as possible” experience for their student-athletes.
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