COVID-19 AND ITS EFFECT ON STUDENT ATHLETICS
Since the start of Covid-19 many people have been affected, including student-athletes not only all over the world, but also here at Eastern New Mexico University. Athletics at ENMU have been put on hold for almost a year, yet now there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel for some Portales sports competing in the spring semester, although with some restrictions of course. In the early spring of 2020, the campus was alive, not a facemask in sight and six feet apart was not a thing. All sports were active and getting ready for the seasons that were ahead. That was, until COVID-19 came into the picture. No one really knew what to expect and many people thought it was a common cold. Week after week, athletes would receive messages stating that COVID-19 could possibly shut down their seasons. Eventually, all fall sports were cancelled and told that everything they have trained for will have to be postponed due to the virus.
“It was disappointing to know that the team has been working so hard to prepare for the upcoming season, just to get told we are not playing at all. To a lot of those guys, it is more than just a game, it’s their life,” said Cooper Hamilton, the starting kicker for the ENMU football team.
Luckily many of the sports teams for the ENMU spring semester were granted the thumbs up. However, the average day for an ENMU athlete is nothing like what they would have experienced in previous years. Each day, all athletes must fill out a symptom form before coming to campus. Once the symptoms form is completed, a mandatory temperature check is administered at the Greyhound Arena. If athletes do not have an elevated temperature or any flu-like symptoms recorded, a colored wristband is given to the athlete that lets everyone know that you are healthy and COVID free. This process is conducted every day to make sure every student athlete can participate in daily practices.
“The spring athletes have not had it easy despite getting the opportunity to play again. Everyday resources are limited, like the weight-room and the training-room. We can only go in and train if we make an appointment beforehand,” said woman’s track runner Lauren Griego.
Softball player Azalea Martinez also had strong feelings towards the limited access to the gym equipment.
“Having the weight-room closed was hard on us because we had to try and gain all the muscle we had lost when we came back. We didn’t have a lot of time, so we had to work extra hard just to get back into shape,” said Martinez.
These are just some of the challenges that a lot of the athletes are facing every day as their seasons progress through the semester. More athletes were willing to speak their minds on the topic.
“Having to practice in groups of four everyday instead of a complete team is difficult, as you don’t get the full experience of being with the whole team. In turn that makes things harder when it comes to game time because we have to try to work together, when in reality we haven’t practices together all season,” said Josh Lewis, starting pitcher for the ENMU baseball team.
And although many athletes can relate to the countless difficulties, they have had to go through to play this season, the coaches have had to take on the brunt of it. Many of the head coaches at ENMU are playing each day by ear and making it a point to give their players the most accurate information on safety and protocols as it come to them. The ENMU sports teams that are granted full participation during the spring are the, Zia softball, Greyhound baseball, and both men’s & woman’s track teams. The ENMU Baseball team was the first team to represent the Greyhounds since the COVID-19 virus outbreak started, with their season started in February 2021.
The Zia softball team will begin their season March 5 against Texas A&M Commerce at 3 p.m. The Greyhound track and field team will have their first meet the weekend of spring break March 20th. The Eastern New Mexico Greyhounds athletics are ready to show that the Greyhounds are back in business.
No home games will be hosted by any of the athletics at ENMU until further notice.