Earlier this year, the world was suddenly struck by the coronavirus. This forced people into quarantine, caused schools to shut down, and ended seasons of many young athletes. Now, protocols have been set around the world, and Clarke University, located in Dubuque, Iowa, has found ways to protect their student athletes. Along with other schools all across the nation, Clarke has introduced protocols that every student athlete must obey to be allowed on the field for competitions. They also had every student athlete screened for COVID when they arrived back at school. Alec Thomas, baseball player at Clarke University, states “Every day I wake up and have things to do to make sure I’m allowed on the field. Staying healthy and being responsible are the keys to making this season work out, and the school is doing everything they can to protect us.”
Clarke has made changes to showing up for practice by implementing some new protocols. These include testing students for COVID at the beginning of the semester, filling out an online symptom assessment by 10 a.m. each day, wearing masks into each practice, taking temperatures before practice, and sanitizing all equipment that is used. In reference to the COVID symptoms assessment, if an athlete is showing symptoms or does not fill out the form, she/he will not be allowed on the field. Bryce Oriold, a senior at Clarke, states that “It is honestly a good reminder in the morning to fill out the COVID survey before you get out of bed.”
Oriold also claims, “The only thing that is tough is having to wear a mask at practice is you are close to someone.” Athletes are having a hard time adapting to playing with a mask on. Clarke students are not required to wear a mask when in actual gameplay but, during teaching moments or team meeting or walking up to the field, students are required to wear masks. Clarke also requires students to have their temperatures checked every time they enter any facilities.
Clarke has also implemented limit at some of their indoor facilities that only allows a certain amount of people in at a singular time in order to follow social distancing guidelines. Marco Melgoza, senior at Clarke, says, “It’s hard to grow as a team when we can’t have all of guys in there at the same time. Granted, we have 60 people and it’s hard on our normal field to get everyone together anyway.” When asked if there are positives to this situation, Melgoza remarks, “I can really get in my zone with no distractions of so many voices and it helps be honestly get more stuff done and better myself.”
These things are all being done to protect the student athletes at Clarke. In response to this tragic pandemic, the university put their boots on and got to business to make sure this school is not only healthy but running as normal as possible.