Since last fall, the UCCS Club Sports program has taken steps to ensure the safety of all Club Sports members and the campus community, while attempting to keep students engaged in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Program members are required to submit the UCCS Wellness Check before they can participate in any in-person club activities, and every team has designated safety officers responsible for tracking member attendance and Wellness Check completions.
Members of clubs with indoor practice sessions that are unable to maintain social distancing guidelines are required to always wear face coverings during activities. Meanwhile, clubs that practice outdoors and can socially distance have allowed members to remove their face coverings.
Athletes are still highly encouraged to wear their face coverings outside, even when social distancing is possible.
All clubs have also submitted Return to Play strategies to the program, detailing individual clubs’ COVID-19 safety measures, equipment sanitation and the handling of potential exposure.
According to Bill Moorman, manager of sport and youth programs at UCCS, when El Paso County is at Risk Level “Yellow” or better on the El Paso County COVID-19 Dashboard, all club sport teams will be allowed to practice. El Paso County is currently at Risk Level “Yellow.”
High contact club sport teams such as ice hockey and soccer, in which players often make physical contact, are permitted to participate in conditioning and skill drills but are unable to have “full-contact” practice sessions. Low contact club sports such as tennis can maintain more normal practices due to the safer, low-risk nature of their sports.
Meanwhile, the Club Sports program has developed other ways to encourage member engagement.
“Participant retention has definitely been a challenge over the past year. The Club Sport executive committee has worked diligently to provide enrichment opportunities for all clubs for athletes,” Moorman said.
“For example, we have had trainings on budget packets, we are working with our licensed dietitian to provide nutritional sessions for each of our clubs, and we have a meeting with clubs monthly in order to check in with them and provide any opportunities to assist them.”
According to Moorman, Club Sports and university leadership are currently in the process of discussing travel plans, including those that mitigate the risk of COVID-19 infection. Overall, Moorman and the rest of the Club Sports leadership are hopeful that travel plans will be approved soon.
Currently, there are still many uncertainties regarding Club Sports. Currently, no club sports competitions or tournaments are scheduled. Still, the UCCS Club Sports program is working with other Club Sport directors throughout Colorado and Wyoming to determine if hosting in-person events will be feasible in the future.
Moorman added that while some members have opted out of participating in the program this semester, most members seem to be both nervous and excited to hear the news and are looking forward to returning to in-person practices or are already practicing in person, as well as competition and potential travel.
For the remainder of the semester, the UCCS Club Sports program has one goal in mind: to provide an opportunity for UCCS students to stay engaged with the program and for all club sports to eventually participate in in-person activities once again, whether that be practice sessions or actual competitions.
“More than anything we want to make sure that our students are safe, and we realize how important it is for our students to be physically active and socially active as it relates to their mental well-being,” Moorman said.