Oct 23, 2020 | SPORTS | By Keeley Kandziora| Photo by Patil Khakhamian

The Colorado College volleyball team is currently conducting what would typically be its spring off-season in the fall, and they hope to have a limited but regular season in the spring. 

The team has been weight-lifting in the varsity gym three times a week for the past three weeks.

Before the team enters the weight room, each member of the team must fill out their Colorado College Self-Assessment. They have to show strength coach Emily Andersen a green check mark from the self-check, indicating they are cleared to participate that day. Andersen also takes each person’s temperature at the door. Strength coaches and athletes are required to socially distance and to wear masks.

After lifts, the strength coaches gather equipment for decontamination. 

Each team has 15 minutes of designated cleaning time until the next team comes in and starts their own workouts. That means wiping down every touchpoint and making sure each piece of equipment is disinfected for the next.

For Andersen, the largest difference in her routine since the pandemic hit has been scheduling athletes so they do not overlap and inserting a buffer period for disinfecting equipment. “The second major difference was programming,” Andersen said. “I’ve changed my exercise selections to reduce the need of sharing equipment and with the limited time.” 

Head volleyball coach Rick Swan emailed his team COVID-related guidelines before its first practice, which took place Sept. 28. 

He urged players to disinfect the net system and any additional equipment, and to use spray and paper towels that are available in the gym. The biggest change from non-pandemic practice, however, was how social-distancing guidelines disrupted regular six-on-six drills. Because players must now stay six feet apart, only two of them can be on one side of the net together, turning the game into an unusual two-on-two match. 

That’s similar to lacrosse.

“We are allowed to have a third of the amount of people on the field at once and there are 60 people on the team,” player Charles Harrington ’24 said. “We are currently allowed to practice with 20 people at a time, but all 20 can be on the field.”

Currently, he added, there’s a no-contact rule on the field and the team is a part of random COVID-19 testing.

Meanwhile, at Honnen Ice Arena, one hockey player said the whole team can now practice together five times a week where before they were limited to four times a week in three separate groups on the ice without contact drills.

Hockey players, obviously, aren’t allowed to share water bottles. 

When on the ice, “our trainer comes by and wipes down the benches after we go and get a drink of water,” said first-year Nicklas Andrews ’24.

Personalization of equipment doesn’t discriminate by sport. 

“We were assigned one specific partner to share a ball with for the entirety of practice to limit the amount of contamination in the gym,” said Jenny Jenks ’24, a volleyball player from California. 

Instead of tossing the volleyballs in a large cart after each drill like they normally would, each group sets the ball they were using on the ground, away from others.

The team’s “post-use process” of equipment includes taking down nets and wiping down poles and pads with anti-bacterial wipes. They place all used balls into a single cart where they are taken and disinfected. 

One of the team captains, Isabelle Aragon-Menzel ’21, of Minnesota, is hopeful for the spring. 

“It is definitely a lot different than our typical season,” she said. 

At this point, she said, the team would be a month into the competitive part of the season. But, like much else on campus during Pandemic Fall, sports teams are no exception to the disrupted routines and uncertain days ahead. 

“I was personally very excited when the school changed its mind about allowing us to practice because I definitely thought we wouldn’t be allowed back in the gym in the fall,” Aragon-Menzel said. “Even the fact that we are allowed to do that is surprising in a good way and I am tentatively hopeful for the spring.”

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