On Monday, Oct. 12, Goshen College announced it would be shutting down the athletic department through Monday, Oct. 19. This shutdown not only impacted sports competition, but also included closing the Recreation-Fitness Center to all students until the start of next week.The decision to postpone sports competition and practice was made after a recent spike in COVID-19 cases from within the athletic department.
“At this time our biggest challenge is to decrease the spread of the coronavirus on our campus.” said Gilberto Perez, dean of students. “The one-week pause allows athletic teams to assess their COVID-19 preventative measure protocols and recommit to their safety protocols that ensures the safety of their players.”
Goshen College, outside of the athletic department, has had success in slowing the spread of COVID-19. Three weeks ago, campus wide, GC only had seen two students in isolation and just 13 in quarantine. As of Wednesday, Oct.14, GC’s coronavirus dashboard shows 24 students in isolation and 68 in quarantine.
The numbers began to rise after winter student-athletes were hit hard following their mandated preseason test.
“Per NAIA and Crossroads League protocols, student-athletes that are set to start their season must receive a COVID-19 test,” Perez said. “The tests that were administered revealed that a few student-athletes indeed were carriers of the coronavirus. The testing of student-athletes has also helped the institution reassess its testing strategy.”
Five teams on campus have been immediately impacted by COVID-19 over the past two weeks: the men’s and women’s basketball teams, men’s soccer, men’s volleyball and the softball team.
Head coach of the Goshen College women’s basketball team, Stephanie Miller, who also tested positive for COVID-19, is navigating the challenges surrounding her team.
“For our team personally, it was simply a matter of having the virus unknowingly get into our bubble.” Miller added, “Our sport is certainly at risk due to the high amount of contact, so preventing spread is difficult once it’s in your bubble.”
Miller agreed the Goshen College Athletic Department was doing well up until about two weeks ago.
“Students feel safe because we had low numbers and begin to engage in more activities, social gatherings and not wearing masks in these environments.” Miller said. “That leaves us vulnerable to the virus, and when it got into the teams/department, it spreads fast.”
The initial round of testing for winter sports teams took place on Monday, Oct. 5. Two days later, the Goshen College women’s basketball team was notified that two of their players tested positive.
Miller is still hopeful that her team will be able to suit up for their upcoming season.
“We have a 30-game schedule in the Crossroads League with the understanding that, in most cases, we will have to let some of these games go to deal with obstacles.” Miller said, “There have been no sudden changes to these plans as some of the recent developments have taken place with increasing COVID-19 cases on many campuses.”
The decision to momentarily postpone sports activities was never an easy decision, according to Perez.
“It was also a hard decision because we always want our students to participate in the things that bring them joy,” Perez said. “When students aren’t able to do what they love it is disappointing and sad.”
As for the RFC, it will be used to house students who need to isolate or quarantine after a positive COVID-19 test.
According to Ronit Goswami, a junior on the Pandemic Task Force, the turf room and the cross country team room will now be used for isolation spots for new cases on campus if needed.
A decision will be made by Goshen College on whether to continue athletics on Monday, Oct. 19.