Warren Wilson College Puts a Halt on Athletics until March 1

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Carlos Wyrick/Staff Photographer

Basketball player practices despite unfortunate news.

Nearly every major sporting event has been canceled, moved or postponed, and this has carried over into collegiate athletics. Joni Williamson, Director of Athletics and Adventure Sports,  broke the news to Warren Wilson College students during winter break: the school decided to cancel all sports competition until March 1st, 2021 due to COVID-19 concerns. However, the announcement does state that teams can practice and participate in other activities promoting teamwork. The main sports affected by the decision are men’s and women’s basketball and swimming. 

With the season still in question, men’s basketball is moving forward as if they will be playing. 

“The main thing is thinking big picture, especially with a team like us with only one senior,” said men’s head basketball coach, Dominique Boone. “There’s always something to look forward to. We look towards the future and take advantage of this opportunity.” 

One silver lining for the 2020-’21 athletic season is that it will not take away a year of eligibility from student-athletes, even if games are played. 

“Guys are basically getting a free year to basically just get better,” Boone said. 

The positive mindset coach Boone is setting has clearly impacted the players as well. 

“We’re trying to keep our hopes up, keep working out…we’ll see what happens,” said Jaden Wentz, a freshman basketball player. 

While there are hopes for this season, the decision made by the school is disappointing to student-athletes and coaches. 

“Right or wrong, it is not our decision to make, we would rather play, but at the end of the day, it is not our decision,” Wentz said.  

Ultimately the college made the decision because of global uncertainty and rising cases nationwide. Even after a successful first semester with no positive COVID-19 cases on campus, virus concerns have been slowly increasing since the return of students to campus after winter break. The school is continuing to monitor the virus within the nation and in the school to decide if sports are appropriate at all this year.

If Warren Wilson athletics goes ahead and makes the decision to compete in sports after March 1st, there will be more testing before all competitions as well as continued temperature checks before practices and games. Student-athletes must also wear their mask and maintain appropriate physical distancing. 

Sports have been broken up into three groups by NCAA rules based on transmission risk of COVID-19. Low-risk sports include cross country, cycling, swimming and tennis. Intermediate-risk sports include lacrosse and soccer while basketball is the only high-risk sport on campus. Depending on the group each sport is in determines the amount of testing each student-athlete will receive. 

Since this year is a bit different than most, student-athletes are encouraged to participate only to their comfort level. The school is not ready to make the call if varsity athletics are canceled this year and a decision is expected in the coming weeks.