Athletics prepared for potential competition


Casey Rothgeb

CWU women’s basketball team awaits news from GNAC of a possible season, which should come in mid-November.

Rey Green, Sports Editor

With no athletics spring quarter, coaches and players have been eager to get back to Ellensburg to potentially play their respective sports. The Greater Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) decided to allow some athletes to participate in voluntary workouts over the summer. This test group was the majority of the football team. After nine weeks of workouts, the GNAC met and made the decision to postpone the fall 2020 season for all sports. 

With fall quarter starting up and students returning to campus, the safety protocol in place has been tested and proven to work. In the nine-week test run that CWU had during the summer, there were no COVID-19 outbreaks from within the facility.

Director of Athletics Gary Hyatt said he feels confident the protocol they set for the fall will be successful. Hyatt said the plan athletics has is identical to CWU’s safety plan. 

“When we started in the summer there were other programs that already had workouts,” Hyatt said. “So, whatever was working for them we took it and implemented it into our plan.”

Hyatt said after putting the plan together, the plan had to be approved by the screening committee and the Kittitas County Public Health Officer Dr. Mark Larson. Athletes are then tested as soon as they arrive in Ellensburg.

“The typical day of an athlete once they arrive at Nicholson Pavilion starts out with a temperature check and a daily check of COVID-19 symptoms. Then, everyone sanitizes their hands and puts their masks on,” Hyatt said. “Once the workouts start everyone maintains six-foot distance. Football workouts are all non-contact in order to minimize the possible spread of [COVID-19] from asymptomatic carriers.”

Hyatt said there will be no in-person meetings for all sports as of right now but looks to change that in the future. Hyatt believes in the future meetings will have a size and time limit. Weightlifting has reduced their numbers to 16 people per side of the weight room since there’s a glass side and a cage side. 

Focusing on the training room, Head Athletic Trainer Isaac Perry said the most important part of this whole process is the education aspect. Perry said almost every week there’s something new learned that has to be addressed to coaches and players. 

Hyatt agreed that education is going to be a major focus point moving forward and improving the system because the virus is not going away any time soon. 

“The training room has been moved to appointment-only to limit the amount of people who are allowed inside since there’s a room limit throughout the building,” Perry said. “Everything is more timed and organized. I’m impressed with our staff’s efficiency.”

Perry said as more people come to campus their biggest concerns are the big outbreaks and how they will be handled. Once an athlete tests positive they have to report to the county health authorities, but trainers and coaches will stay up to date and monitor their improvement during isolation. 

“There’s still a lot of research and things we don’t know still, especially about the long term effects,” Perry said. “[Our staff is] reading new releases everyday just to stay educated and aware of how to properly handle situations.” 

Hyatt said he is concerned about the other students who will be allowed in the building who are not athletes. He said athletes are a more controlled group than other students since all the athletes get tested as soon as they arrive on campus. The status of other students are unknown. 

“The best method we came up with is a walk flow through the building guiding which direction people can enter and exit the building,” Hyatt said. “There’s signs that read, ‘go this way,’ and everyone walks on the right side of the walkways. We are providing the structure but it all relies on students to follow and maintain it.”