Fall guidelines and protocols are in place for Texas A&M’s sports clubs, and the men’s ultimate frisbee team has had to tackle the challenges of keeping everybody in good health.
Team members said they learned a couple weeks before school started that their fall plans would be canceled. As a result, men’s ultimate president and industrial engineering senior Trase Hendrix said he quickly tried to come up with strategies to keep the club going. For now they will be conducting practices in small groups to get ready for a possible spring season. Hendrix has been an integral part of getting practices organized so workouts can be conducted appropriately.
Hendrix said there are several aspects of the protocols he must ensure are obeyed, including cleaning supplies, the check-in process and splitting up the team into permanent small groups.
“It's usually just one big group of people that check-in for practice, but we have to individually make an event for each one of our eight groups and add participants to each of those groups whenever they show up to practice,” Hendrix said. “We also have to organize cleaning supplies since things like frisbees get shared between people.”
Hendrix also said they are splitting the team into several groups of up to 10 players, allowing them to do drills and conditioning safely.
“Our practices will have smaller groups split into 10 people, so it falls on me to organize those groups and make sure people are staying in those groups and staying distanced,” Hendrix said.
Hendrix said finding a way to continue practicing this fall is especially important for new members.
“We are working on our skills still, so we'll be working a lot of drills for handling the disc,” Hendrix said. “It's hard to join the club as a new member and not touch a disc for the whole semester, so we definitely want a foundation of some sort heading into the spring.”
David Turlip, a fourth-year member and C-Team captain, said he feels confident the team can run practices without risking spreading COVID-19 to each other.
“I would say that we will be pretty safe because all these protocols come from Rec Sports,” Turlip said. “We're stressing that if you wake up feeling bad at all, just don't come out. We all have to wear a mask at all times, as well when we’re working out.”
Visualization junior and third-year member Zach Hillard said he also feels safe going to practice and looks at it as an opportunity for the team to mature.
“The protocols are very thorough and very well enforced,” Hillard said. “It also brings a newer sense of self-accountability to things as well.”
Hillard said even water breaks have to be planned out in advance.
“Communal water isn't a thing anymore obviously, so we've had to make sure everybody brings one or two water bottles of their own,” said Hillard. “We’ve had to stagger the water breaks as well since we can't all be going at the same time.”
All of this work done under strict guidelines is in hopes of future competitions, but with no decision on the fate of the spring season coming until December, Hillard said it is essential to keep the right mindset for the time being.
“Without the promise of anything happening yet [in the spring], the mindset for every athlete, whether it be at the club level or the collegiate level, is that we're just trying to prepare since plans can change at the drop of a hat,” said Hillard. “Whatever form it takes, we just want to make sure we're out there getting better so we can make sure that we're ready to play.”