IWU Resumes Practice Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Andrew Zienty

The Illinois Wesleyan University Baseball team in a pre-practice meeting practicing safe social distancing.

Photo courtesy of Nick Watson ‘21.

Amid the current pandemic, sports at all levels across the country have been put on hold–

Including most of IWU’s fall sports. 

This past week marked the first of practices approved by IWU coaches and school administration. 

Many students, faculty and staff are worried about this decision as it can be seen as a ground zero for the spread of COVID-19 to a large number of students in a short time. 

Approximately 32 percent of IWU’s student population are student-athletes. 

With nearly one-third of our student body being a student-athlete the protocols and rules in place are critical to the success of a healthy and safe fall practice season.

Professional sports associations have the resources and capacities to manage and work through the pandemic. 

The NBA has a bubble city for the athletes. 

PGA has provided transportation for golfers from tournament to tournament.

 MLB has three labs running thousands of tests a day. 

IWU, on the other hand, does not have a bubble city, testing facilities, or the safe transportation that these major sports do.

In professional sports, MLB has administered 53,826 total COVID-19 tests with a positivity rate of .1 percent. 

Last week alone the MLB administered 13,043 with a positivity rate of .1 percent. 

The testing is paired with their own COVID-19 policies that MLB teams and players are supposed to follow, many of which are commonly used by everyday individuals, such as social distancing and face coverings.

 Each player is responsible for adhering to policies and protocols, similar to the IWU Titan Pledge.

While IWU does not have the resources or capacities of professional sports organizations, our athletes do have a common goal and awareness of the issue. 

To start, every single athlete was given PPE in the form of a washable mask and washable neck gaiter. 

Every athlete has also been given their own washable Gatorade bottle so no shared hydrating stations can increase the likelihood of the spread. 

IWU has begun to administer random COVID tests on 15 percent of the student population every Wednesday, this could include athletes and help get a headstart on possible spikes.

When asked how the protocols and rules are working with IWU Baseball, Colin Pfotenhauer, a senior on the baseball team said, “We all want to be here practicing and if these are the new rules we have to follow to practice we will follow them.”

 “Yeah. the protocols are enough and we have guys here who are following them and making it possible for our fall season to continue with limited risk,” Pfotenhauer said. 

Junior soccer player Zack Kokes said.

“To prevent the spread we have split our team into two separate training groups to limit numbers for practice. 

We also have strict times and limits in regards to locker room usage. We are only allowed to do non-contact drills and we must wear masks during the entirety of training sessions,” Kokes said.

IWU has begun fall practice with all fall sports with the protocols and guidelines established by IWU, the state of Illinois and the CCIW.