Earlier this month, the Gulf South Conference Board of Directors made the decision to postpone the fall semester competition. The sports that will be postponed until at least Jan. 1 are football, soccer, volleyball, and basketball. Golf and cross country will continue to compete while following National Collegiate Athletic Association guidelines. The decision was made based on the priority of student-athletes’ health and safety and the protocols from the NCAA board of governors.
Cross country and golf have been permitted to compete, as they are considered low to medium contact risk by the NCAA. Football, soccer, volleyball, and basketball have all been identified as high-risk contact sports and are too high risk to maintain proper testing and management. In contrast, the GSC has determined golf and cross-country manageable sports to test and track any potential cases.
With the postponing of most fall competition, the GSC will look into options for spring competition. Any spring competition will be ensured to be a meaningful season for athletes, but may not follow past formats of season play.
The only sport with a non-concrete decision is both men’s and women’s lacrosse. Lacrosse is recently a new member of the Peach Belt Conference, having left the GSC. There has been no final decision on spring play for Lacrosse.
But how has this affected Montevallo Athletics? For most of the summer leading up to the fall semester, many athletes didn’t know what to feel about returning to campus.
Brett Batchelor, a student-athlete for the Montevallo golf team, says, “Honestly, it just feels good to be back. While I know it is not the same situation for everyone, being able to compete with my teammates means the world to me…seeing the cross-country team back on campus running feels just as good.”
For Batchelor and his teammates, it was a relief to finally know what was happening.
The GSC believes golf and cross country to be manageable sports in following COVID-19 guidelines. Both are outdoors and can follow social distancing.
According to Batchelor, “Being outside on the golf course, there is SO much room to be more than six feet apart from each other. You can be hundreds of yards apart from others.”
Both sports aren’t seeing many changes, Batchelor said, “Approaching competition won’t be much different when…we play and compete on the course, but it will be different by making sure we walk around correct parts of the clubhouse, wear our masks when inside, and making sure we are socially distanced from others.”
For the athletes who don’t play golf and cross country, the postponing of fall athletics feels like just another cycle of the spring. Although there’s a chance of continuing in the spring, these athletes still have the same feeling that they did in the spring of what’s next? For most, however, practices are going to continue a little differently, following NCAA and GSC guidelines.
If any athlete feels uncomfortable with practicing, they have the option to opt-out, per NCAA rules. In the scenario that practices are also postponed, coaches will encourage their athletes to stay as sharp as they can on their own. Coaches have had meetings with the GSC and the athletic department regarding all decisions made about COVID-19.
The SAC weight room will continue to be open with the enforcement of social distancing and other mandatory guidelines, including masks. However, all locker rooms will be closed.