Feature Story: “Will We Ever Play Again?”

Matthew Alter 9-21-20

         It has been more than six months since student-athletes from Piedmont College were sent home due to COVID-19, and it is still a guessing game as to when Piedmont sports might return.

            Although Piedmont’s campus has been open for more than a month, most fall sports have been postponed until spring. Student-athletes are allowed to practice, but due to the pandemic, practices are very different. There are various health and safety guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19, such as daily temperature checks, mandatory face coverings at practice and social distancing.

Even as athletes return to practice, it’s hard not to ignore the threat of the pandemic.

“I think as a student athlete, COVID-19 is always in the back of your mind,” said Conner Jelly, a junior baseball player. “For me, I’m always worried about if I’m going to contract the disease and what that would do mean for me, my team and even my season moving forward.”

As a spring sports athlete, Jelly is hopeful his team will not lose another season.

“We are trying very hard to keep everyone safe, but the protocols can only do so much,” he said.

            Piedmont Athletic Director Jim Peeples, has continuously updated student-athletes on the ever-changing guidelines of COVID-19 and trying his best to make sure both fall and spring sports can play in 2021.

“For me, my biggest task at right now is making it a possibility for our athletes to compete in the spring,” he said.

            Part of meeting that goal is determining what sports can play now. Following NCAA guidelines, the college has moved forward with allowing two fall sports — tennis and golf — to play in limited competition right now.

            “If we do nothing we learn nothing,” said Peeples.

            Student-athletes, like Jelly, are cautiously optimistic that sports will return in the spring. “I believe we will play again but at the same it’s hard not to think about what type of impact COVID-19 will have on the season.”

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