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SUNY Brockport athletic department works to resume competition

Women’s Volleyball team lift on 2 March 2021

SUNY Brockport’s athletic department has been working diligently behind the scenes to safely resume practices and competitions and to ensure that student-athletes have a positive experience. During the fall and spring semesters, they juggled COVID-19 restrictions coming down from the state, Monroe County, the university’s Emergency Operations Committee (EOC) and the NCAA.  

Susan Hoffman, Associate Director of Athletics, said one of the biggest challenges is constantly writing and rewriting rules to accommodate the various COVID-19 policies that change daily.  

“Sometimes it looks like the athletic department doesn’t know what its right hand is doing to its left hand, and sometimes that’s true,” Hoffman said. “We make decisions in the morning that have to be changed in the afternoon to accommodate a new rule.”  

The athletic department received a directive from SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras telling them to do everything in their power to resume spring sports this semester. Despite this, practice and competition plans must be approved by Brockport’s EOC, who were apprehensive towards resuming athletics in the fall. 

According to Hoffman, the EOC did not approve initial plans for fall practices which proposed dividing teams into pods of starting and non-starting lineups. The EOC told them to limit pods to three players each, and gradually increase the number of players per pod throughout the semester. 

“The EOC is diligent at making sure all the T’s are crossed and the I’s are dotted,” Hoffman said.  

This spring they have granted athletics more leeway due to success in slowing the spread in the fallIt was also noted that the restrictions placed on athletics in the fall were harsher than those enforced on other departments 

The athletic department has also been working to readjust schedules. This spring the SUNYAC will split into an East and West division to limit overnight trips and exposure to COVID-19. Hoffman said the split conference helps balance the budget, which faced a 20% cut, by reducing travel expenses.  

Additionally, the department is tasked with getting student-athletes to comply with COVID-19 policies. Student-athletes must complete a daily symptom tracker and attend weekly testing to remain eligible for practice and competition.  

“They need to be responsible citizens,” Hoffman said. “All it takes is one student-athlete to go out to the bars on a Saturday night and bring the virus back to the team.” 

Spring competition is set to begin on March 20. Violations of COVID-19 policy will hold even more weight as they could result in cancelling competition and impact entire athletic programs. Students must be responsible to themselves, their teammates and their college.  

“This is just a big bump in the road,” Hoffman said.  “There are student-athletes and coaches that are struggling, and I have to be their cheerleader.” 

At this time fall and winter sports are not cleared for competition but can participate in team lifts and practices if they are masked, divided into pods and maintain social distancing. Despite the uncertainty, Hoffman and the athletic department continue to stay motivated because of their love for Brockport’s student-athletes.  

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