Club sports cleared to start practicing with restrictions

The+UVM+swimming+pool+lays+empty+and+still+in+the+Patrick+Gym%2C+Sept.+17.

Eric Scharf/The Vermont Cynic

The UVM swimming pool lays empty and still in the Patrick Gym, Sept. 17.

COVID-19 restrictions have brought one unexpected win to UVM students: club sports seem to be functioning better than many of the athletes could have expected, and for some even more than they’d experienced in past seasons.

Club sports teams were cleared to start practicing mid-last week, marking a step forward since late July, when teams were given extensive COVID-19 restrictions to follow in order to begin practicing again.

Despite these barriers, UVM club sport presidents expressed optimism about the upcoming Fall season.

“There’s actually a lot more structure this year compared to previous years in terms of reserving space on the fields,” said Matt Davis, Men’s Club Soccer president, discussing some of his experiences thus far into the semester. 

In addition to providing clearer guidelines for space reservation and sanitation, UVM publicized rules to the UVM community in late July specifically about club sports this semester. 

Jerome Budomo, Associate Director of Student Life, ran a Q/A webinar in which he explained the new terms for participation July 29. 

“I know this is not an ideal situation and you may have received some disappointing news, but we want teams to be prepared so when the season can resume athletes will be in shape and can start competing again,” Budomo said.

The new restrictions echo the Green and Gold Promise, requiring masks and six-foot social distancing. Masks are not required when 10-foot social distancing is possible. 

Davis said the club soccer team is doing non-contact drills to comply with these rules and splitting up into small tryout groups to limit contact.

Abby Bruzas, president of the Club Field Hockey team, said her team is also doing non-contact drills in response to new restrictions.

Teams were also required to share their plan to follow the Green and Gold Promise guidelines, another obstacle for club sport leaders.

However, the club sports presidents said the guidance from UVM was helpful in working back into practicing with their teams. 

Club Water Polo president, Annabelle Hill, said she’s felt at ease with how her team is getting established thus far and stressed the importance of being able to do at least something as a team. 

“This year we aren’t so much focused on bringing anyone’s water polo skills to a super high level,”  Hill said. “We just think it’s important we can give our members a place where they can be social in a responsible way.”

Club Water Polo and other pool sports have had to adjust to limited pool capacity rules that caps at 12 people.

While the recruiting process for the year has been somewhat different for club sports, teams are still utilizing email, social media and tabling to get new interest. 

Abby Bruzas, president of the Club Field Hockey team, shared that Activities Fest was helpful for finding interested players this season. 

“At activities fest we got around 40 signatures which was great, and our tryouts are postponed to after October 26th so that we can hopefully have contact drills to really be able to see how these new players play,” Bruzas said.

Assuming there is no spike in COVID-19 cases on campus, the club sports teams expect limitations to loosen up by the week of Oct. 26 so the teams can expand their practices.