How COVID has Impacted Athletes and Staff at Shawnee

Nathan Ewing, Staff Reporter

COVID-19 has caused major problems for sports around the world. College sports are extremely popular across America and here at Shawnee State University. There are 20 sports which Shawnee offers, including Basketball, Baseball, Soccer, Softball, Volleyball and many more. So, as you can imagine it’s been very difficult having to adapt to new rules and playing sports in both the Spring and Fall season. Many players have missed out on various opportunities, but it seems like there is light at the end of the tunnel. 



Due to COVID-19 and last season being postponed and moved forward to this semester, it has been extremely challenging trying to fit all sports in the same semester. This means that all staff have much more to do and are working non-stop to make sure everything gets done and games can be played in the safest possible way. At times there can be multiple sports playing on the same day and even at the same time, so finding staff can be very challenging but with the help of student workers, this has been made possible. If it wasn’t for the hardworking staff, then none of this would be possible.


Kevin Colley who is the Sports Information Director at Shawnee said “As a whole, COVID has made the process of producing day-to-day content and quality work extremely tough. With everybody competing in March except for swimming, it has been extremely difficult to prioritize one sport over the other. Honestly, it has been very frustrating and the toughest challenge of my professional career in sports, because we need more bodies at Shawnee State to cover what we need to cover as coaches and as support staffers to make our student-athletes experiences the best that they possibly can be. To be honest, I feel guilty even looking student-athletes in the face, because I know we are rushing things just to get the competitions in. I just, personally, felt like we could’ve extended the seasons a month or so to not rush our staff around and prevent risking injuries to athletes.”



Having no support at your games can be very difficult because a lot of the time the home team uses their support to help them keep motivated throughout the games. It can also be very off-putting for the opposing team, which is a big advantage to the school hosting. It is also hard for supporters themselves because many students are wanting to come to the games and cheer on their teammates, and family members also want to be there to see these special moments and to watch their family doing well. The school has announced that some supporters are allowed back for games, so this is a massive step in the right direction. 



Travelling has been very difficult, especially with all the different protocols. At first, Shawnee was using minivans to travel the teams which depending on the size of the team, could be three or four vans. Everyone had to be wearing their masks throughout the journey for safety reasons and need to be screened before they leave school. The teams must be very careful when travelling and make sure they do everything correctly because they will be going near others that may not be following the rules. This can also be a problem because the teams must travel to different states. What the school has done very well is a lot of the time they have ordered food to go, or they get it delivered to the bus directly so that people don’t have to go in the building and mix with others.

1 year back of eligibility


One of the positives to come out of all of this is that all the players received an extra year of eligibility to make up for the season’s that have been lost. For example, last year the men’s basketball team made it to the National Tournament but were not able to attend because of COVID-19. This would have been a massive opportunity for the players as they had a chance to impress different coaches and win the National Tournament and make a name for themselves. This would have also been great for the school because it would have put them in the spotlight and showed that they can compete with the best teams in the nation. 


Some players may be trying to move onto other schools or go and play professionally and this made it very difficult because everything was on hold, and especially financially some schools now don’t have the money to offer as many scholarships. This has made it very hard in terms of recruiting because many players are staying at their schools for another year because of the eligibility, which means there may not be enough scholarships for players that the school had originally planned to bring in. For some schools, it can be seen as a positive because if they have some good players, they may be able to keep them at the school for another year. 



Making all the sports play at one time can lead to a lot of injuries and players burning out. For example, the soccer team have been playing up to four games in one week which is unheard of and should not be happening. Due to this, the body is not getting enough rest and then the players are left playing with injuries which puts them at risk of hurting themselves or not performing to the level they want to be. Most of the teams playing this semester will also have to play again back-to-back in the fall. The spring is normally the time when the teams will rest but because of COVID-19, this has not been made possible. 


Speaking to Levi Roberts who is the head athletic trainer, he said “The COVID pandemic has led to a condensed and lengthened season for a lot of our sports. By playing a higher number of games and having more practices in a shorter period leads to fatigue and burnout, which leaves athletes more susceptible to injury. Fatigue and burnout cause the body to not work efficiently, as well as decreased focus on technique and form, all of which lead to injuries such as sprains and strains. With a condensed season, there is also less time for athletes to recover from these injuries. In turn, athletes miss more games and practices. Athletes also must deal with the injury for longer periods as they have fewer days to recover and are continually participating in games and high-intensity practices. This timeframe does not allow athletes to adequately heal from an injury before moving on to the next practice/game.” 


Many schools have really struggled financially so getting back to normal is the main priority right now. It’s great to see things slowly getting back to normal and the school is hoping that fall is going to be a lot more positive than the past semesters. With vaccines rolling out at a really quick rate this gives a lot of hope to people around the world, and soon we hope that sports will be back to normal without any limitations.