Bridgewater College Athletics Adjusting to COVID-19 with a Strategic Plan

“Manage everything we can manage, control the controllable, and try to maximize the experience for all of our athletes.”

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  • Women’s locker room hallway transformed into staging area for weight room sessions.

    Photo by Ryann Crennan

  • Equipment rearrangement in weight room. Enforcing mandatory wipe downs before and after each training session.

    Photo by Ryann Crennan

  • To prevent cross contamination and insure social distancing guidelines, lower level of Nininger Hall is now one way traffic.

    Photo by Ryann Crennan

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Ryann Crennan, Staff Writer

Bridgewater, Va. – Starting this semester, there have been some adjustments made to the Bridgewater College Athletic Department to accommodate the social distancing guidelines enforced by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The NCAA and Old Dominion Athletic Conference declared that if it can be done safely, all the sports will be in action in the spring. This, along with the social distancing requirements, requires a lot of adjustment for coaches, athletes, and the athletic training staff.

The NCAA mandates that there cannot be more than 20 athletes training or practicing at once. This caused the majority of the sports teams on campus to separate into two or more groups, called “pods”. 

During preseason and during the transition to the regular season, all athletes are required to have completed a symptom check evaluation, as well as a temperature screening prior to every conditioning session and practice. 

Social distancing requirements have given Nininger Hall an interior makeover. Numerous physical adjustments have been made in the facilities to accommodate safety protocol. 

“We’ve rearranged the weightroom to maximize not only space, but also distance between equipment. We have labeled the equipment 1A, 1B, etc. to make sure that when we are flowing and transition through different pods, we minimize cross contamination as much as we can. Each rack has its sanitation bottle and rag to wipe down all equipment before and after each session,” said Beach. 

There have also been alterations to prevent the athletes and teams from crowding the door prior to their weight training session.

“We’ve also adjusted the women’s locker room hallway to be the ‘staging area’ so athletes can be placed six feet apart while they’re waiting for whatever pod is in there to finish up and wipe everything down prior to them entering. We have also made the main hallway in front of the weightroom a ‘one way’ hallway so that things can flow smoothly and as safely as possible,” said Beach. 

Beach and his staff plan to utilize outdoor workouts to the best of their ability in order to be effective and safe. 

“Right now we have calculated, to get the weight training we want to get done minimally, as much as we are allowed to, it would take 82 groups per week. Adding in the outdoor sessions, it will take us well over 100 per week. All of this with just me and Courtney [Adams],” Beach said. 

Though there will be barriers and obstacles this upcoming year, Coach Beach explains the mentality of the strength and conditioning staff as having three major components.“Manage everything we can manage, control the controllable, and try to maximize the experience for all of our athletes,” said Beach. 

Another group of athletic staff that have felt the impact of COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines is the athletic training staff. 

“We have moved around a lot of our room to accommodate social distancing. However, this also limits the number of patients we are able to see at one time,” said assistant athletic trainer Sam Buscher. 

Having mandatory screenings on top of athletes requiring treatment and rehabilitation for their injuries, has altered the approach of the athletic training staff. 

“Our mentality is safety first, which it always has been. With these protocols and guidelines in place, we are easing into everything that we do and want to make sure that we are doing our best at keeping our athletes healthy while also making sure that they are prepared for their seasons,” said Buscher. 

Coaches are also having to make adjustments in order to be able to practice with their teams.   

“We are all just excited to be back out on the field. Whether it is isolated pods, small groups, and slowly making our way back to full team practices, I will take whatever we can get,” said softball coach Megan Pleskovic.