Elena Ciulli | Staff Writer

Even with competitions postponed, Panthers haven’t lost their heart and athletes are working out on a regular basis. On Sept. 22, athletics at Florida Tech marked the end of their second week of practice in hopes of playing in the spring.

Student-athletes returned to campus to prepare for their respective seasons before the university announced that all fall competition would be put on hold until the spring. Athletic director Pete Mazzone said he agrees with the decision, especially since the NCAA’s sport science group mandates testing of each athlete prior to and after competitions. 

“Once this announcement came out in July, most of the conferences in the NCAA Division II and Division III and many in Division I postponed all fall competitions,” Mazzone said.

NCAA guidelines require testing for all outside competitions at this point during the fall, but not for practices within each institution.

As with almost everything on-campus this semester, practices and training sessions are different than usual. In addition to close supervision, coaches have developed training cohorts for small group practices of ten or fewer individuals.

 According to Billy Mims, head coach of the men’s basketball team, the new COVID-19 protocols are necessary as the health of student athletes, coaches, and staff is a paramount concern to Florida Tech. Coaches and student-athletes are required to wear face masks and adhere to social distancing as part of the university policy.

 “Basketball is an in-your-face contact sport, so the risks are obvious,” added Mims. “Our players are getting used to the new normal of dressing for practice at home instead of in our locker room, using hand sanitizer before starting practice and at breaks during and after, spraying the basketballs with disinfectant before and after practice.”

Dimitris Karademitros, a sophomore majoring in aviation management with flight and member of the rowing team, said the return to practice presented some degree of normalcy. 

“The way that spring semester ended really affected my grades and performances in school. I am so glad we are able to go back to the gym, it seems nothing changed. Apart from the masks, of course,” Karademitros said. 

Training activities include a gradual introduction of physical activity with minimal to no contact, placing an emphasis on technique. Small training cohorts are intended to limit the amount of close contacts. 

“We all need to continue to follow the guidelines that have been put in place by the university, so that we can continue to go to class, go to practices and go to the gym,” Mazzone said. 

No positive test results have occurred since Panthers resumed practice on Sept. 8, according to Mazzone.

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