Sports gears up for another season with COVID-19

Written By Abby Yoder, For The Globe

The university’s spring athletes and coaches say that they were devastated in the spring of 2020 as their seasons were cut short without notice. But, athletes and coaches also say that they have been eagerly awaiting for their time to shine in their upcoming 2021 season. However, there are still many unknowns about the upcoming season, as cases of the novel coronavirus continue to rise across the country and precautions are expected to be taken very seriously.


“The fall was far from smooth for our track and cross country athletes, but the team got to compete at several meets, which was far from a given,”  track and field head coach James Spisak said. Spisak went on to describe the upcoming indoor track season as “a huge question mark.” 


Another challenge the track team will face is finding meets. 


“It will be difficult for us to find meets,” Spisak saidd. “We will have to account for many last-minute schedule changes because of athletes showing symptoms or having to quarantine.” 


A number of schools and universities aren’t having an indoor track season at all, so it is expected that scheduling games this season will be a challenge. 


“We are also unable to go to Youngstown State this year to use their indoor track like we do most winters,”  Spisak said. “This means we will have to be creative with using our space on campus, and will have to tough it out in the cold some days.”


The track and field athletes and coaches say that they are working hard to make their season possible and that they are not short of passion and drive. Another spring sports team reporting that they are ready to give their all in the 2021 season is the Point Park baseball team. 


“Having our season canceled last year was a very emotional and grueling time,”  head baseball coach Loren Torres said. “The absence of playing games last year has created even more excitement to play this year, and if that means COVID screenings, protocols, and hard-to-breathe masks, then so be it. We are going to be grateful, proud, and blessed to wear the Point Park uniform in any shape, way, or form.”  


 Torres said the fall pre-season period for the baseball team went better than expected, “considering the new protocols and challenges.” 


“Our workouts only had to be on hold twice for a COVID test result, which came back negative,” he added.


The baseball team has returned seven of their eight seniors from last spring that were supposed to be done with their eligibility, as their athletic association granted them an extra year. Having these returning players, along with the recruited class they’ve brought in has increased their roster size and level of play. 


Coaches and athletes of the track and baseball teams are in agreement that, although the protocols may be specific and strict, it will not hold them back in any way this season. 


“We will continue to work in pods as often as possible, perform screenings and wear masks at all times, all while striving to stand tall at the final out this season,”  Torres said. 


The coaches expressed their eagerness and pride towards the upcoming season, and so did the student athletes who will all be a part of this team effort. 


“I have no doubt we will persevere through the tough times,” Shane Levan, a freshman baseball recruit at Point Park said., “I have taken the fall season to get to know my fellow players and coaches, and know that nothing will be able to hold us back. Yeah, it’s a bit frustrating at times to deal with all the rules and precautions, but we all feel lucky to be able to play at all, and we’re going to take advantage of that opportunity to play.” 


Audiences will only be allowed in spacious, outdoor venues, which may not allow for as much student pride showing through at games. However, games and meets will be partially filmed and available for watching on the Point Park Sports website, which invites just as much student pride and viewers as in previous years. 


While spring sports coaches and athletes are expecting that this will be a season like no other, they say that they are ready to carry through the season of unknowns. Masks, screenings, and the need for extra creativity will not stop Point Park sports from taking place.