COVID-19 brings another opponent for athletes


Noah Wright , Staff Reporter

2020 saw the rise of COVID-19 and with it came a new standard for athletics here at CWU. With seasons started back up, there is a new procedure that has created an extra opponent for student-athletes to face while in competition.

Weekly testing has brought with it a new set of rules that affect not only the athletes, but athletics as a whole.

According to the Director of Athletics Dennis Francois, the path to this date has been exhausting. 

“We knew that we were going to need something in place when seasons started again,” Francois said, “but it seemed like every two weeks, something changed.” 

According to Francois, one of the most confusing parts of the testing procedure is the different testing cadences for each sport. 

 “High-risk sports, such as football and rugby, have to test weekly if they are competing or practicing without masks,” Francois said.

Intermediate-risk sports have seen the biggest changes in testing cadences. 

“If these sports [baseball, softball and basketball] are not traveling, then we test 30% of the team on a two-week basis,” Francois said, “but if they are traveling we test the whole team 3 days before departure.”

The low-risk sports, such as track and field and cross country, test only before traveling, Francois says. 

According to Head Athletic Trainer Isaac Perry, the teams take a lab-based PCR test, which he considers to be the best possible ones. 

“The tests are all done through the UW lab in Seattle,” Perry said. “They have an online system where we order tests for every person by putting in each person’s information prior and then we go through and print out all the information for each test.”  

According to Perry, the testing procedure is that the teams test in the upper gym at Nicholson Pavilion. For the actual testing, Perry said everyone is given a swab, test tube and plastic bag which they use to self-administer the test and package up to be sent off.

The tests are then sent to the UW lab and results are released about 24 to 48 hours later, according to Perry. 

According to Perry if a test comes back positive, CWU health center director Dr. Carylin Holsey, is the first one to be notified by the UW lab directly. 

“Her job is to then relay the information to the appropriate people on campus, as well as the county health department,” Perry said.  

Perry also stated that if a person misses the testing day, then they are held out until a makeup test is administered or the next testing cycle comes around, whichever one comes first. 

According to Head coach Trevor Richards of the women’s rugby team, the whole testing process can be very stressful. 

 “Obviously, no one wants to stick a swab up their nose,” Richards said, “ but beyond that there is a little bit of anxiety while waiting for the results.”

According to Richards, another stressful piece of the testing and procedures is the effects they have on everyone’s experience. 

“It’s been really tough to come together as student-athletes because we are taking away their normal experience,” Richards said. 

According to Richards, the athletes come to college and then they are told not to behave like normal college students. 

However, the athletes on the team have been working hard to keep giving negative test results according to Richards. 

 “We have been following the procedures and I feel bad sometimes because it is very hard to catch your breath while wearing the masks, but someone has to be the mask police,” Richards said.

This effort has paid off according to Richards. 

“We [the team] started testing in the beginning of February and have not had a positive test,” Richards said. 

According to Richards, negative test results are always encouraging to the team because it shows their efforts are not in vain. 

“[The team] spent so long shut down and it was a very trying time, but continually getting negative results are what allow us to compete,” Richards said.  

But one negative weekly test is no reason to forget all the safety procedures, according to Francois and Perry. 

“The test only provides a result for that day,” Perry said. “It is important that we need to adhere to procedures daily because you could come back negative on one day and have symptoms a few days later.”