Sports plan for spring semester

Blugold sports teams get opportunity to practice amid COVID-19 cancellations

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Photo by Owyn Peters

The UW-Eau Claire football team is back to practicing while still following COVID rules.

Despite the WIAC Conference’s ruling to suspend competition through the end of 2020 due to COVID-19, UW-Eau Claire’s sports teams have been able to practice and do what they can to improve the fall semester.

“We’ve learned through all of this is to take it day-by-day and be thankful that they can practice right now,” said Jill Millis, the assistant athletic director for media relations/sports information. “Because we have other schools in our conference that are not practicing right now.”

The Blugold football team has been able to gather for practice during the fall semester despite not being able to play any games.

Wesley Beschorner, head football coach, said these practices initially started out in very small groups, eventually growing to the team being divided in half for back-to-back practices.

“Social distant football practice is a totally different world,” Beschorner said. 

He said because of the ability to test their players frequently at the university, they were able to practice as a full team starting the third week of November.

Annie Ryder, the head men’s and women’s swimming and diving coach, said they were able to start swimming practice the third week of September by running four practices a day to rotate everyone through and practice social distancing.

Ryder said she was encouraged by the fact there has been no cases tracked back to practice, and there has been only one positive test on the team since the start of the semester.

“I think they’re taking the testing seriously and the safety protocols seriously,” Ryder said. “They want to continue to be at practice.”

The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams recently held an intersquad scrimmage, which was shown on Facebook Live for family and friends to watch.

Ryder said the scrimmage allowed the team the opportunity to experience some competition and gave them a chance to honor their seniors.

Millis said there is no definite schedule for spring sports, but the athletic department is preparing for all different scenarios.

“It’s kind of like we’re in playoff time, where I don’t know if our team is going to play tomorrow or next week because it all depends on today,” Millis said.

Ryder said the swimming team is still holding out hope for having a conference meet to look forward to after winter break, but said this is “looking less and less likely.”

Blugold swimmers are being told to “sit tight,” as while there will almost surely be practice or racing in some form second semester, nothing is definite yet, Ryder said.

Beschorner said the football team is hopeful they will be able to hold spring scrimmages, but the team is preparing for all possibilities.

“We have a plan, but we know that plan might get blown up really quick,” Beschorner said.

Millis said the entire athletic department is trying to use this time in the best way they can and are preparing for all different scenarios pertaining to the spring semester.

“We’re just trying to do what we can and focusing on some things we can do right now,” Millis said.

Janssen can be reached at [email protected].