Athletics prepares for full seasons despite COVID-19

Written By Luke Mongelli and Mason Strawn

On Friday, August 14, all fall sports athletes returned to campus to begin training and practices for their respective upcoming seasons. 

Point Park University, the River States Conference, and the NAIA have cleared all fall sports to continue on schedule for the fall 2020 semester, throughout the Coronavirus Pandemic. 

In an interview with Point Park Sports, Athletic Director John Ashaolu expressed his attitude towards the upcoming fall season.

“We are very excited to welcome back our student-athletes to campus,” said Ashaolu. “It has not been the typical offseason in the department or for the student-athletes at their respective homes, but we are looking forward to having the fall teams back to get ready for their upcoming seasons.”

According to Point Park University’s official sports website, Point Park University’s Department of Athletics in conjunction with others from around the conference and UPMC, have been working during the off-season months to create a return-to-play plan along with a plan to keep athletes healthy for contention. 

Three sports will kick off this fall for Point Park this year: Both men’s and women’s soccer and cross country, as well as women’s volleyball. 

The return-to-play plan is also in accordance with guidelines created by NAIA, the RSC and by state and local officials. 

  • Aug. 1 – Fall student-athletes instructed to begin self-quarantine for 14 days in preparation of return to campus. International student-athletes instructed to return to campus by this date in order to self-quarantine and begin preseason training Aug. 15.
  • Aug. 14 – Fall sports student-athletes arrive to campus (Volleyball, M+W Soccer, M+W Cross Country)
  • Aug. 15 – Fall sports first day of preseason training (as allowed by the NAIA). Training groups limited to 10 student-athletes, and all training must be non-contact for the first 14 days. 
  • Aug. 29 – Fall sports begin full-contact preseason training. Training is limited to 50 or fewer student-athletes. 
  • Sept. 5 – First date of intercollegiate competition (as allowed by the NAIA).
  • Masks or face coverings must be worn by student-athletes who are not in competition and also by all coaches, staff and athletic trainers.
  • Screenings for temperature and symptoms will be conducted daily and before every training session or competition.
  • Student-athletes with a high temperature or symptoms will be isolated with medical protocols to follow.
  • All participants must be committed to hand sanitizing and hand washing on a regular basis.

“I think they are doing the best they can to keep us safe,” said sophomore men’s soccer player Diego Romero. “And it’s good that they didn’t cancel the season this year.” 

The first sporting event of the year will be an away match at Grace College in Indiana on Saturday, September 5. The first home game will be Saturday, September 12 against Lourdes University, although this game will be played at Montour Junction Sports Complex, in Coraopolis, PA. The first official home game on Point Park ground will be a women’s volleyball game on Friday, September 18 against Indiana University Kokomo; the first game of the team’s season.