The COVID-19 pandemic has made a large impact on how the world of sports is operating in 2020 and for the foreseeable future. The virus has forced many schools including Greenville University to cancel their fall sports seasons and create strict guidelines in order to be able to practice as a team. In an interview with the head coach of the Greenville University Panthers football team, Robbie Schomaker, who is in his 8th season at Greenville this year, he discussed some of the challenges that COVID will bring his team this fall and what it means for their future.
This season will bring many challenges to the team, especially when it comes to practicing this fall. The team must go through three separate phases before they are able to get back to “normal” practice. be able to move on to the next phase, the team will need to have 2 consecutive weeks without any positives. Here is a breakdown of what the 3 phases would look like, and how they will affect fall and spring practices.
The first of the phases, and the current phase they are in, allow there only to be ten players practicing at once while wearing masks and maintaining social distance. This has forced Schomaker to make separate practices for each position. Some positions even have to be broken down into more than one group.
The next phase would be a major step in the right direction to prepare for spring football. It would allow the team to practice with 50 members and no masks.
If the team is able to go two more consecutive weeks without a positive COVID test, they will be allowed to move on phase three. The third and final phase would allow the team to practice all together with no restrictions.
This season will be pushed back to the spring has both its positives and its negatives, but Schomaker is making the best of the situation. One of the major advantages of a spring season comes for the freshman and transfer students. Schomaker looks forward to this, saying, “It will be nice to be able to spend time with the new guys so they can learn the schemes.” Once the season does begin, it will be quite different than your usual Panther season. A usual season would have 10 games, 8 of which would be conference games. However, this year the Upper Midwest Conference, UMAC, teams’ schedules have been cut down. Each team can schedule up to 10 games, but if we play 5 games or less everyone will gain another year of eligibility.” One challenge that scheduling games will bring is that schools can only play teams on their own side of the conference, and currently, there are only 3 teams on GU’s side of the Southside of the conference. The Panthers will kick their season off against Westminster on March 27, 2021. Currently, there are 3 other games scheduled that would include 2 games versus Iowa Weslyn and 1 more game against Westminster.
Media by Paul Garrett.