During the week of Feb. 8, extreme cold and snow moved into the Liberty area – causing subzero temperatures, ice and snow for nearly the following two weeks. The severe weather forced athletic practices to adapt while also navigating COVID-19 restrictions and protocols.
Tom Eisenhauer, director of athletics, explained how teams adapted to the weather.
“Some practices were canceled, while others were shortened but most activities were moved indoors. Some of our teams were able to [utilize] other indoor spaces off-campus due to existing relationships with those entities, which was tremendously helpful,” Eisenhauer said.
Moving athletic activities indoors created an increased need to recognize Operation Safe Campus protocols in order to minimize potential COVID-19 transmission.
“The expectation for adherence to Operation Safe Campus protocols was no different during the cold snap than is when weather is favorable,” said Eisenhauer. “Athletic administration scheduled practice times in order to manage the total number of teams in the building at a time. However, with a capacity of 2400, the Mabee Center is more than capable of handling multiple teams at once.”
Danny Presler, senior psychological science major on the football team, talked about the need to adapt to the weather.
“We were forced to practice indoors due to the low temperatures and we had to improvise our schedule to work around the other teams practicing in the Mabee Center,” Presler said. “Last week [the week of Feb. 15], [the temperature] started to get in the high teens, and we would start in the Mabee Center and finish practice outdoors for about 30 minutes. The situation was not ideal, but we got better with the time that we had.”
Eisenhauer also discussed the difficulties of conducting athletics during this time even during a typical year and how these difficulties were amplified by the current situation.
“February is generally a challenging time of year due to the high demand on indoor spaces anyway,” said Eisenhauer. “That was compounded this year due to the pandemic and the shifted playing seasons of our fall sports. However, our coaches and student-athletes continue to demonstrate their resiliency, ability and willingness to adapt and overcome. The College faculty and staff continue to be supportive of our student-athletes which is very meaningful. All that being said, I am happy to see the sun and warm temperatures again!”