In late July the USA South Athletic Conference, with support from Meredith College’s President Jo Allen, elected to postpone fall sports competition until the spring semester. The President’s Council followed suit with a recent announcement to delay basketball conference competition as well. With the safety of student-athletes, coaches, athletic trainers, and other athletics staff at the forefront of deliberations, the final decisions required creative thinking to offer Meredith student-athletes some form of athletic experience this semester.
With a plan in place to keep athletes and staff safe using guidelines from the NCAA resocialization plan, Meredith’s 10 athletic teams began a modified practice schedule Wednesday, Sept. 9. Teams are engaged in a 10-week model allowing for three practice sessions per week, including a socially distant, small group structure for a minimum of the first two weeks. Based on the direction of the pandemic, announcements from state officials, and the college’s status at the end of that first segment, the athletic administration may adjust practice restrictions as appropriate.
For the first two weeks this fall, student-athletes and staff must pass pre-practice checks, including temperature and Campus Clear review, in order to participate in each session. Coaches will split teams into small pods to adhere to indoor/outdoor gathering restrictions. Athletes will participate in practice without sharing equipment and will be spaced a minimum of six-feet apart. Student-athletes in outdoor sports will not be required to wear masks during practice but will mask-up once physical activity ends. Meredith’s basketball and volleyball teams will use face coverings when practicing indoors. Coaches will mask-up throughout each session. Extra steps will be taken to clean athletic equipment used during each session, and athletic trainers will manage the health pre-checks in addition to managing injury prevention and care for all teams.
We expect full cooperation from our student-athlete leaders in an effort to progress through the fall semester safely. With many scenarios considered during the planning process, Meredith athletics will move forward to keep athletes engaged, fit, and enjoying the sport they love.