Student athletes back on practice fields after nearly 8 months


Summer Cox

Baseball players practice on campus this week for the first time since the college closed in March.

Johannes Haasbroek, Editor-in-Chief

After a nearly eight-month moratorium on sports games and practices, AACC’s athletes ventured back onto campus fields this week to begin training for the spring season.

AACC, like all of Maryland’s community colleges, cut its spring season short and canceled the fall season as a precaution against coronavirus.

Athletic Director Duane Herr said it’s time for student athletes to get in shape for spring, when most fall sports will make up the lost season and spring athletics will begin as scheduled.

Starting practices now is important because the athletes are “just not in the in the … shape that we need them to be,” Herr said. “So this is an opportunity for us to start to work on that and engage our student athletes on the field.”

To prevent the spread of coronavirus, the teams will practice outdoors in small groups on alternating days, Herr said.

“The purpose of the practice being smaller scale … is to eliminate the risk of a [coronavirus] spread,” he explained. If any athlete tests positive for COVID-19, he said, the college would identify which other players he or she had been in contact with.

“We won’t let more than 20 student athletes be on one side of a field at the same time,” Herr added. “They have to separate … out. So, our rosters of 30 or 40 [athletes] will have to be separated in a large enough space to accommodate that. So … the focus is just on conditioning and getting back into game … shape.”

Herr said the college requires athletes to complete a daily COVID screening questionnaire. Athletes who report they do not feel well will stay home for the day.

Some coaches said they are happy to be back on campus.

“We’re very excited to be back,” Men’s Lacrosse coach Joe Stanilaus said. “It’s been a while since we’ve been together. Our last day was March 12 and that’s too long for us.”

But Women’s Basketball coach Lionel Makell said it could be difficult for his players to practice outside in November and December.

“You don’t play basketball outdoors in the wintertime,” he explained. “That’s the issue that I’m dealing with as a coach now … [with] no rims, no basketballs. The only thing we could do is conditioning.”

Some student athletes said they feel safer practicing in smaller groups.

Women’s Soccer defender Morgan Duly said she supports the social distancing rules.

“That way, the whole team doesn’t have to quarantine” if one athlete tests positive for COVID-19, Duly, a second-year transfer studies student, said. “It would just be … that little group.”

“I feel like it’s safer,” she added. “But I would like to get back as a whole team and do … scrimmages again.”

Women’s Lacrosse goalie Taylor Toman agreed.

“As long as it’s a set amount of small groups that are practicing together through the duration of the time that we are allowed to practice, I think that is sensible,” Toman, a first-year business administration student, said. “We’re not exposing ourselves to more people than necessary where we could put ourselves more at risk of getting the virus.”